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: http://www.coloradoan.com/story/news/2017/02/17/asbestos-may-your-home-3-things-know/98000752/

By | 2017-04-21T09:58:08+00:00 April 21st, 2017|Asbestos Abatement|0 Comments

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 (https://www.epa.gov/asbestos/protect-your-family-asbestos-contaminated-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 | 2017-01-23T09:38:50+00:00 January 23rd, 2017|Asbestos Abatement|0 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