Before You Hire an Asbestos Surveyor and Asbestos Abatement Company:
- Always avoid a conflict of interest. An asbestos professional hired to assess the need for asbestos abatement or removal should not be connected with an asbestos firm that does the actual repair or removal of materials. It is better to use two different firms so there is no conflict of interest.
- Ask asbestos professionals to document their completion of federal or state-approved training. Each person performing work should provide proof of accreditation to do asbestos work.
- Know the difference. Asbestos Inspectors. These individuals can inspect a home or building, assess conditions, take samples of suspected materials and advise about what corrections are needed. If repair or removal of asbestos materials is chosen, inspectors can ensure the corrective-action contractor has followed proper procedures, including proper clean up, and can monitor the air to ensure no increase of asbestos fibers.
- Asbestos Contractors. These professionals can repair or remove asbestos materials.
Asbestos can be found in such materials as:
- Attic and wall insulation produced containing vermiculite
- Vinyl floor tiles and the backing on vinyl sheet flooring and adhesives
- Roofing and siding shingles
- Oil and coal furnaces and door gaskets with asbestos insulation
- Textured paint and patching compounds used on walls and ceilings
- Walls and floors around wood-burning stoves protected with asbestos paper, millboard, or cement sheets
- Hot water and steam pipes coated with asbestos material or covered with an asbestos blanket or tape
- Heat-resistant fabrics
Major health effects associated with asbestos exposure include:
- lung cancer
- mesothelioma, a rare form of cancer that is found in the thin lining of the lung, chest and the abdomen and heart
- asbestosis, a serious progressive, long-term, non-cancer disease of the lungs
You generally can’t tell whether a material contains asbestos simply by looking at it, unless it is labeled. If you are unsure, treat the material as if it contains asbestos and leave it alone. You may want to have your home inspected for asbestos containing materials by a trained and certified asbestos professional if you are planning to remodel your home or your home has damaged building materials (like crumbling drywall and insulation that is falling apart).
A trained and accredited asbestos professional should take samples for analysis, since a professional knows what to look for, and because there may be an increased health risk if fibers are released. In fact, if done incorrectly, sampling can be more hazardous than leaving the material alone. Taking samples yourself is not recommended.
If building materials in your home aren’t damaged and won’t be disturbed, you do not need to have your home tested for asbestos. Material that is in good condition and will not be disturbed (by remodeling, for example) should be left alone.
Asbestos-containing materials may release fibers when they are disturbed, damaged, removed improperly, repaired, cut, torn, sanded, sawed, drilled or scraped. Keep an eye on asbestos-containing materials and visually check them over time for signs of wear or damage.
If you suspect material contains asbestos, don’t touch it. Look for signs of wear or damage such as tears, abrasions, or water damage. Damaged material may release asbestos fibers. This is particularly true if you often disturb it by hitting, rubbing or handling, or if it is exposed to extreme vibration or air flow.
The EPA Website can offer more information on asbestos as well.
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