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

What do you need to know when renovating your home?

Prior to renovating your home or other structure an inspection must be performed to identify asbestos containing materials when areas greater than certain trigger levels are disturbed.  A licensed asbestos inspector will identify those materials.  Asbestos inspectors will also discuss the general steps necessary to ensure safe abatement of the asbestos.  The trigger levels are:

  • In single family residences, 32 square feet or 50 linear feet or will fill a 55 gallon drum.  Anything greater will need to be abated using a certified asbestos abatement contractor.
  • Other public and commercial buildings, 160 square feet or more than 260 linear feet or will fill a 55 gallon drum.  Anything greater will need to be abated using a certified asbestos abatement contractor.

Also, in the state of Colorado, if these trigger levels are exceeded a permit is required.  It usually takes ten days to obtain the permit.  The permit may require 60 days, if non-standard abatement techniques are used.  There are other methods for ensuring safety that do not include removal.  Such methods include leaving it as is (if the material is not damaged and not likely to be disturbed), enclosing the asbestos material or encapsulating the material.  Use this link to to the Colorado Department of Public Health & Environment to read more about asbestos prior to renovating your home.

Risk Removal is a certified asbestos abatement contractor.  Certified asbestos inspectors are found on the Colorado Department of Public Health & Environment website.

Learn more at our residential services page.

By | 2017-05-16T07:13:45+00:00 December 20th, 2016|Home Renovation|3 Comments

Where was asbestos commonly used?

Asbestos has some very favorable characteristics that has led to its use by many societies of the past few thousand years.  Historically it was used by Egyptians, Romans, Europeans in textiles because of its fire resistance properties.  More recently, asbestos has been used in a variety of materials including floor tiles, drywall, roofing materials, pipe insulation, blown insulation, transite siding, transite pipes, drywall mud, gaskets, duct tapes, acoustical textures (popcorn ceilings), artificial embers and fire resistant boards surrounding stoves.

Many of these materials were used in building homes prior to 1980.  After 1980 the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) prohibited the sale of many of these products.  Although all the asbestos mines in the United States have shut down, asbestos is still being mined outside the US in places such as Canada and China.  Foreign countries may not regulate asbestos to the extent that the governments in the United States do.  This means that there are opportunities for asbestos laden materials to enter the US in common products and there have been occasions in the ‘90’s and ‘00’s when such materials have been used in construction in the US.

It is very important to understand that asbestos may be present in a variety of locations throughout the building before doing any renovations or demolition that may disturb asbestos fibers and release them into the air.

By | 2016-12-21T11:14:55+00:00 November 30th, 2016|Asbestos Abatement|0 Comments

What is asbestos and why is it bad for you?

Asbestos is a naturally found mineral that has been mined for thousands of years.  Over the millenniums it has been used in a variety of applications.  In early Egypt is was used to wrap Pharaohs for burial.  In medieval Europe asbestos was used in table clothes and curtains to prevent the spread of fire.  More recently it has been used in a variety applications throughout the home, business and transportation.

Such items include: roofing materials, floor tiles, industrial glues, siding, window caulking, fire proofing sprays, acoustical (popcorn) textures, brakes and drywall.  Asbestos was used because of its very beneficial properties such as high tensile strength, heat and fire resistance, and light weight.  In many instances where this mineral is left undisturbed and embedded in these items it is not inherently dangerous to humans. When it is disturbed, the material may be rendered friable which releases the asbestos fibers into the air.  Once the fibers are airborne they can be inhaled and due to the physical structure of the fiber it can lodge itself deep inside the lungs and remain there.  This causes the body to attack the fiber in a variety of ways and ultimately can lead to reduced lung capacity, cancer and death.  This is exacerbated when combined with other negative influences that decrease lung capacity such as smoking.

When working around asbestos containing items one must be very aware to not disturb the asbestos fibers and inhale them.  State certified abatement contractors follow very specific regulations and industry best practices to minimize disturbing asbestos fibers and keeping them from going airborne.  Additionally, the abatement contractors will wear appropriate personal protective equipment to prevent individual exposure to these fibers.

By | 2016-12-21T11:15:27+00:00 November 30th, 2016|Asbestos Abatement|0 Comments