At least 3 Reasons To Use A General Abatement Contractor (GAC)

So, a question that is brought up quite often is why should I use a General Abatement Contractor (GAC) to abate asbestos or lead. Here are few thoughts to consider when making the decision on how to remove the bad stuff from your property.

Just like the next person, I am always looking to complete tasks in the most efficient way possible (maybe cheapest also…). In many cases that means doing it myself. It is a lot of effort to find someone that I trust. And then to set up a with them takes up a lot of time. Also, I like to learn new skills. Doing the work myself is a good (mostly) way to learn. Not to mention the money required. Removing asbestos and lead is a risky endeavor that can result in the release of toxins into the environment. It must be done in a very controlled fashion. A general abatement contractor has the expertise to ensure that containments are properly established, work methods are appropriate, proper equipment is used and cleanup actions are completed. Proper equipment includes HEPA vacuums and negative air machines capable of collecting the asbestos fibers and lead particles. All together, these drastically reduce the risk of releasing the bad stuff into the broader area. Therefore, the people that occupy these spaces have minimal risk to exposure of these elements.

Secondly, maybe I can have the other trade worker currently onsite take care of the asbestos or lead. The trades workers are very highly skilled in the areas of their expertise. Additionally, many are experienced in identifying suspect asbestos and lead. Together this might sound like a great solution to the problem. This is something that you will want to avoid. Remember, expertise in one area does not mean that they are qualified to do work in another. Nor will they have the right equipment. No matter how similar the work may appear, there are regulations in place that are meant to keep you safe. If these regulations are not understood and followed the risk is to your health and the health of the worker.

Lastly, state regulations require a General Abatement Contractor to do the abatement work. A GAC is responsible for ensuring all workers and supervisors are properly trained and certified. These requirements are for yearly recertification. Each supervisor and worker are taught the latest tools and techniques in the industry. Additionally, the workers and supervisors undergo rigorous physicals on a yearly basis. This ensures that any changes in health are caught quickly. Also, it ensures that workers are healthy enough to wear personal protective equipment necessary to complete the abatement process. If you are wondering whether the building inspector can also abate the asbestos, the answer is no. Regulations clearly state the building inspector identifying the asbestos containing materials must be independent of the GAC. I suppose this is to remove the conflict of interest in someone identifying the material and then removing the material.

Hopefully, the previous paragraphs give you a solid idea of the reasons why using a GAC is important and will help maintain the safety of all involved. Using experts is well worth the time and effort to prevent creating a situation where the toxic material is spread into the surrounding environment.

By | 2017-06-28T08:38:20+00:00 June 28th, 2017|Uncategorized|0 Comments

7 Reasons why lead paint is harmful

We have all heard about the catastrophe in Flint Michigan that is still ongoing after 3 years. High levels of lead in the drinking water were found after the city changed the water source and left the water untreated. The tragedy is that it is well know that water needs to be treated when using older pipes to prevent lead from leaching into the water. This demonstrates the importance of testing the drinking water in your home as well as filtering the water. Here is a link to some additional information written by the Washington Post.

Another source of lead in the home is from older paints. In 1978, the EPA banned lead paint, any home built prior to that is at risk for having lead paint. This paint may be covered up by more recent layers of paint, but the hazard is still there lurking below the surface. Like lead in the drinking water, the concern is when this lead paint is ingested. There are many ways lead can affect the human body, especially children and 7 are listed. In children, there can be nerve damage, hearing problems, slower growth (physical, emotional and intellectual) and digestive disorders. In adults, possible problems result in higher blood pressure, lower fertility rates, digestive disorders and brain damage.

Lead paint can be ingested by inhaling or eating lead dust, paint chips or contaminated soil. It is important to minimize the amount of lead dust so that it doesn’t find its way into food, on children’s hands or feet, or on children’s toys. In many places the paint can become chipped, cracked or peeling over time. Window sills are especially susceptible to this and are a place where dust and paint chips can collect. Unfortunately, window sills are also a place where children tend to stand and even use to learn to stand.

Inspecting your home for lead can include taking paint samples and using portable x-ray machines to. These samples are good for understanding if lead is present in and around your home. Additionally, you will want to understand if this lead is in a hazardous condition to your family.

Using a “lead-safe” certified firm can ensure the hazard is contained and the material is properly removed and the area cleaned. There are many activities the homeowner will not want to do when dealing with lead paint. We’ll address those in another blog. Read more about Risk Removal and lead paint removal.

By | 2017-05-25T09:25:50+00:00 May 25th, 2017|Lead Abatement|0 Comments

Follow up to 3 Things to know about Asbestos and your Home

Recently, Jacy Marmaduke wrote an article in the Fort Collins Coloradoan identifying 3 things to know about Asbestos and your home. The 3 items she identified are 1) “The EPA tried to ban most uses of asbestos a long time ago because exposure is proven to be a health hazard.” 2) “Asbestos comes in many forms.” 3) “You don’t have to obliterate all traces of asbestos from your home.” These are certainly good items to remain aware of and we would like to add a little more commentary to those thoughts:

1) Not only has asbestos exposure has been proven to be a health hazard, but it is important to note that there is no minimum level of exposure below which exposure is acceptable and does not pose risks. In many cases, any complications from exposure may not show up for many years.

2) Not only is asbestos found in many different forms, but asbestos fibers are separated into 2 different mineralogical categories. These two categories are serpentine and amphibole. Although both categories are known to have detrimental effects on human health, generally the amphibole group of minerals is considered to be more hazardous. Chrysotile resides within the serpentine category and is estimated to encompass 90% – 95% of all asbestos used in products in the US.

3) Asbestos fibers are dangerous when ingested, generally either through breathing or swallowing. Therefore, if the asbestos fibers are contained in some product and not released to the environment creating an opportunity to ingest them they can most likely be left in place. This is referred as the “friability” of the product.

Please find the article referenced at:

By | 2017-05-10T10:28:43+00:00 April 21st, 2017|Asbestos Abatement|1 Comment

5 Things to do when you suspect vermiculite in your insulation (Zonolite)

For many years people have lived and worked with a danger lurking all around. This danger is known as insulation. Yes, insulation. Years ago when vermiculite was mined in Libby, MT most of it was contaminated with asbestos. Zonolite is the trade name for this asbestos tainted insulation, but it may have been sold under other names also.
There are 5 things the EPA recommends you do, if you have or suspect you have vermiculite insulation (

1) Leave vermiculite insulation undisturbed in your attic or in your walls.
2) Do not store boxes or other items in your attic if it contains vermiculite insulation.
3) Do not allow children to play in an attic with vermiculite insulation.
4) Do not attempt to remove the insulation yourself.
5) Hire a professional asbestos contractor if you plan to remodel or conduct renovations that would disturb the vermiculite in your attic or walls to make sure the material is safely handled and/or removed.

The key is to prevent or minimize the chance that asbestos fibers can become airborne and expose people in the area. This would include working in the attic to run cables, add/change antennas, installing skylights, etc – whether the work is done by the homeowner or by a contractor.

Remember this insulation can also be found in the walls, so as you remodel be very careful when creating holes in the walls and ceilings to remove/install electrical outlets, run wires, hang lamps, hang pictures, etc. These types of activities can lead to vermiculite becoming disturbed and creating a hazardous situation.

By | 2017-02-27T14:39:15+00:00 February 27th, 2017|Asbestos Abatement|0 Comments

How is asbestos removed?

In general, when certified contractors remove asbestos the idea is to keep people safe by containing the area, minimizing the amount of material that becomes airborne and properly disposing of the asbestos containing material. Below are high level steps that are taken to remove asbestos containing materials. Federal and state regulations may vary the steps in certain circumstances and depending on the amount and types of materials require additional or less stringent controls.

The first step is to understand what material is asbestos containing and develop a plan to remove it. If the amount of material to be removed is greater than the trigger levels the project must be appropriately reviewed and permitted by the state.

Using certified workers and supervisors, a proper containment is built using poly sheeting around the area containing the material to be removed. This is done to ensure that while working asbestos fibers are not released into the surrounding environment. This containment includes access and egress points for personnel and the material that is removed. While removal is actively conducted in this containment, the workers are required to wear proper protective equipment, such as respirators and suits, to ensure they are exposed to minimal amounts of asbestos fibers. Additionally, the air from within the containment is filtered before being exhausted outside the containment. This technique constantly draws clean air in from outside the containment and filters the air in the work space. The differential in air pressure across the containment walls is constantly monitored and ensures that the asbestos fibers do not escape the containment.

While working on the removal of the asbestos material, the work space is constantly wetted down to reduce the amount of asbestos fibers that stay airborne. HEPA vacuums are also used to clean up fibers. The work space is constantly kept clean as removal is taking place. Each type of material to be removed must be approached in such a way to limit the amount of airborne fibers produced.

Throughout the project, visual inspections are coordinated with a third party agency. Also, air quality is constantly monitored both on the personnel conducting the work as well as background air. This is critical to ensure the safety of the workers as well as maintaining a safe environment surrounding the work area.

Once the work removing the asbestos material is complete and the appropriate inspections conducted, the containment is removed and all the waste is taken to a landfill that accepts asbestos material for disposal.

Quite a bit of training and experience is necessary to safely remove asbestos containing materials. The end result is a safer environment that has better air quality and is forever free from those materials that were removed.

By | 2017-05-10T07:20:58+00:00 January 23rd, 2017|Asbestos Abatement|0 Comments