You’ve drawn up your blueprints, chosen your materials and lined up your contractors. But does your building contains asbestos? You might need to test for it before you start your reconstruction project.
Asbestos is a mineral that’s long-lasting and heat resistant. It was often used in buildings to insulate:
- Pipes and HVAC ducts
- Shingles and siding
- Flooring materials like tile and linoleum
- Textured drywall and ceilings
- Acoustic ceiling tiles
Many commercial buildings and schools need asbestos abatement. There are even specific requirements for inspections and management plans to protect students and teachers.
Asbestos can break up into tiny fibers, which are easily inhaled and cause scar tissue in the lungs. It also causes mesothelioma (cancer found in the lungs, chest and heart), lung cancer and asbestosis (a progressive, long-term disease) decades after exposure.
The US EPA passed a rule banning most products containing asbestos in 1989. When the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals overturned the rule in 1991, only a small number of products stayed banned. Some asbestos-containing products are still imported into the US because not all countries have the same regulations.
The Asbestos National Emission Standards for Hazardous Air Pollutants (NESHAP) regulations specify regulations for construction and renovation projects. They’re part of the Clean Air Act and are specific to toxins in the air. The Asbestos NESHAP requires at least one member of the crew has training on removal procedures, ventilation, HEPA filters, waste disposal practices, and worker protection.
If you think your building has asbestos, you need testing. Find an environmental services company to inspect your building and write a report. If you're building tests positive, don’t take on the removal process yourself. A licensed asbestos abatement company has the equipment and training to properly dispose of any toxic material and keep everyone safe and healthy.