Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Guest Blog: Asbestos and Contaminant Control

A critical part of any renovation or construction project is ensuring that workers and occupants are not exposed to exposed to dangerous contaminants.  LEED for homes recognizes this in section EQ 8: "Contaminant Control".  However, when the project involves a gut / rehab it can introduce exposure to products currently banned such asbestos.  Below is a guest post written by Brian Turner from the Mesothelioma Cancer Alliance on the dangers and proper handling of asbestos.

Dangers of Home Renovations and Exposure to Asbestos

Homeowners can save thousands of dollars on their home renovations if they decide to do the work themselves.  If you are planning to complete a do-it-yourself renovation project, you have to consider the scope of the project and plan accordingly.  If you are lucky, you may have friends and family members that are willing to lend a hand for larger weekend projects that require heavy lifting or more hands.  But what many homeowners do not prepare for when they are doing their own renovations is coming into contact with asbestos.  Many older homes, especially those between 1930 and 1950, were built with the mineral material asbestos.  As you may know, the material has been banned and may no longer be used in homes, schools, or commercial buildings.  Before you start tearing out walls or remodeling the kitchen, find out where asbestos can be found and how to dispose of it properly by reading on.

What is Asbestos?

Asbestos is a mineral fiber that was used in the construction industry quite frequently in older homes.  The only way to properly identify asbestos fiber is to use a microscope to look at the fiber pores.  While this material was very popular in the industry, it has since been banned because it is a very serious health hazard.  If you have asbestos in your home, you need to take the proper steps to remove it or it could be dangerous to your health.  

How Can Asbestos Harm You?

Breathing in asbestos fibers can lead to forms of cancer, including mesothelioma.  Because the fibers are carcinogens, when fibers are inhaled it can lead to respiratory infections and an increased risk of lung cancer.  It has been found that when left undisturbed, asbestos is not very harmful in small doses.  It is when the material is disturbed and the fibers are released into the air that there is a cause for concern.  

Where You Should Look Out for Asbestos When You Are Renovating?

You might assume that the only time you need to worry about asbestos in the home is when you are removing walls and refacing the exterior of your home.  In actuality, asbestos has been used for a number of different home applications.  Here are just some of the areas asbestos has been used in older homes:

*  Furnace ducts
*  Floor tiles such as vinyl
*  Soundproofing materials
*  Cement roofing
*  Insulation
*  Joint compounds

How to Properly Dispose of Asbestos

If you know what steps to take, you can handle the removal of asbestos properly.  Make sure to take the following steps to ensure fibers are not released into the air:

*  Wear goggles, disposable gloves, disposable shoes, disposable clothes, and a respirator.
*  Spray down the material you are removing with water to prevent the fibers from entering the air when they are being removed.  
*  Dispose of the asbestos in the proper bags.
*  Keep the areas and bags wet.
*  Store bags in storage bins that are sealed and labeled.
*  Take bags to a landfill that accepts asbestos.

Finding out there is asbestos in your home can be scary.  The idea of living in a space where cancerous fibers dwell is not comforting.  Make sure that you take time to plan the abatement of your asbestos materials properly and get started on the fun work once it is gone.


  1. Replies
    1. hi...this is your wonderful site. Asbestos removal is most costly then the maintenance of asbestos so the asbestos management is also the same history

  2. This is some really good info, I do asbestos testing and a lot of people think they don't need to worry about it when they are doing home renovations. Thanks for letting them know of the PPE needed.

    Jerrod Iverson
    Iverson Inspections Inc.

  3. This is something everybody should be aware of, considering the harmful consequences of asbestos exposure. It is always better to consult an asbestos specialist before going ahead with renovations of your own.

  4. The demolition of buildings containing large amounts of asbestos based materials pose particular problems for builders and property developers - such buildings often have to be deconstructed piece by piece, or the asbestos has to be painstakingly asbestos removal before the structure can be razed by mechanical or explosive means. One such example is the Red Road high-rise housing development in Glasgow, Scotland which used huge amounts of asbestos cement board for wall panelling - here British health and safety regulations stipulate that asbestos material has to be removed to a landfill site via an approved route at certain times of the day in specially adapted vehicles.Asbestos can be recycled by transforming it into harmless silicate glass.

  5. Asbestos removal is most costly then the maintenance of asbestos so the asbestos in australia is also the same history.

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