Asbestos Testing and Abatement | Environmental Consulting
Asbestos Inspections/ Surveys
In the State of Texas, public and commercial properties are required to have an asbestos inspection / survey prior to performing a renovation or demolition project. All of Precision’s Inspectors are licensed by the Texas Department of State Health Services and final reports meet all city and state requirements.
The sampling strategy Precision employs is in general accordance with Texas Asbestos Health Protection Act (TAHPA) Texas Civil Statutes Article 4477-3a, as amended, and EPA AHERA sampling protocol.
As required by the State, a minimum of three (3) samples will be collected of each identified suspect material (i.e. anything that is not wood, metal or glass). Our inspectors are trained to be as discreet as possible in sampling as to not disturb on going business. The samples are analyzed using Polarized Light Microscopy (PLM) in conjunction with dispersion staining techniques by a lab that is NVLAP certified and Department of State Health Services licensed.
If the sampled material is found to contain greater then 1% asbestos, then it is considered a regulated material.
Asbestos Abatement Consulting & Air Monitoring
If asbestos containing materials (anything containing above 1% asbestos) will be disturbed by renovation or demolition activities in a public of commercial building, then the State of Texas requires the materials to be removed by a licensed asbestos abatement contractor. Precision will work with your chosen abatement contractor and develop project specifications for the contractor to follow during remediation. Precision will also provide a licensed asbestos abatement air monitoring technician / project manager for project oversight.
The Importance of Testing for and Removing Asbestos
For decades, asbestos was used in home construction because of its flame-resistant qualities. However, studies have now shown that asbestos can be a dangerous substance for humans. So, ensuring you do asbestos testing to identify asbestos containing materials and get rid of it in your environment is vitally important.
Read more about: What is Asbestos?
What is Asbestos?
The reason asbestos was used so much in the 20th century is because it is a naturally occurring mineral, made up of fibers. When it was found to be resistant to heat, electricity and corrosion, builders though it to be highly useful, in many materials including plastics, cements, paper, and even clothing. At the time, it was not known that exposure to asbestos could also be highly toxic.
In 1986, the Asbestos Hazard Emergency Response Act came about, legally recognizing two categories of asbestos and six types.
The fibers in Amphibole Asbestos are straight and jagged, and include five types of asbestos:
If the asbestos fibers are curly, they are put into the category of Serpentine Asbestos. As there are only six recognized types of asbestos, that leaves only one for this category:
Read more about: Why is Asbestos Testing Important?
Environmental Solutions | Why is Asbestos Testing Important?
Asbestos can be a very harmful material, and, as such, should be taken very seriously. With older homes and buildings being the main source of asbestos in the United States, contamination can happen easier than you may think. You would not want to start a home restoration project only to face a setback due to asbestos being found. Having a professional contractor do the asbestos testing for you before any construction begins can save you some hassle later.
Protect your family from exposures to Asbestos
Some signs you may have been exposed to asbestos include, swelling or pain the abdomen, an obstruction of the bowels, weight loss, hoarseness, difficulty swallowing, hernia, loss of appetite or clubbed fingers. But, over a long period of time the effects of asbestos can be much more severe.
The reason asbestos testing is so important is because exposure can lead to a number of health-related conditions, including certain cancers. The worst effects typically happen when a person is exposed to a lot of the mineral, or if they are exposed to it regularly over time. Once the fibers are disturbed and become airborne, they can be easily inhaled. Once asbestos begins accumulating in the body, there is not currently a way to reverse the damage it causes.
One of the most common health-related concerns linked to asbestos exposure is Mesothelioma, which is a type of cancer that affects the thin layer of tissue that covers the internal organs. Most commonly, the lungs and chest wall are affected. Even today, about 3,000 new cases of Mesothelioma are diagnosed in the U.S. each year.
According to The Mesothelioma Center:
- Mesothelioma is caused by exposure to asbestos.
- It accounts for less than 0.3% of all cancer diagnoses in the country.
- There are four types of mesothelioma: Pleural, peritoneal, pericardial and testicular. Pleural is the most common type, representing about 75% of all mesothelioma cases.
- Out of all people with heavy, prolonged exposure to asbestos, 2% to 10% develop pleural mesothelioma.
- Symptoms of mesothelioma usually do not show until 20-50 years after asbestos exposure, which is when tumors have grown and spread.
- The average life expectancy for mesothelioma patients is 12 to 22 months.
Asbestos can also lead to other serious health-related issues, including ovarian and laryngeal cancer. But some patients with asbestos exposure are also at risk of the following conditions:
- Asbestosis happens when asbestos causes scarring of the lung tissue and can lead to shortness of breath and Mesothelioma.
- Pleural effusions cause a build-up of fluid between layers of the outside of the lungs.
- Pleural plaques can build-up in the outside layers of the lungs and put patients at risk for certain cancers.
- Pleuritis is the inflammation of the membranes lining the lungs and can cause sharp pains when breathing.
- COPD, or Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, causes inflammation that can obstruct airflow to the lungs.
In many cases, the symptoms of asbestos exposure will not appear immediately. Sometimes, decades can pass before someone notices their health-related issues.
Read more about: Where should I test for asbestos in my home?
Where should I test for asbestos in my home?
While asbestos is not completely banned in the United States, its uses are regulated by the government. Asbestos is no longer used in products such as:
- Vinyl asbestos tiles
- Asbestos cement
- Asbestos roofing felt
- Asbestos adhesives, sealants and coatings
- Asbestos reinforced plastics
These days, the most common asbestos exposure to it takes place through renovations and demolitions of older buildings and homes that still have asbestos products. During the 20th century, asbestos was used in construction-related products such as:
- Adhesives for roofs, plumbing, flooring and wall panels
- Felt for floors, roofs and in paper mills
- Fireproofing paints and sprays
- Loose-fitting and wrap insulations
- Plastics used in appliances, tools and some cookware
- Sheets of cement, drywall, roof shingles and siding
- Vinyl flooring, wallpaper or floor tiles
So, if you are planning a home renovation project in an older home, you will need to be cautious and get Asbestos Testing.
How do I get rid of asbestos and do asbestos abatement?
Before starting a renovation project, you should consider hiring a professional to do asbestos testing to inspect for any materials that may be damaged during the process. Companies, such as Precision Environmental Services, with trained and certified experts, are best equipped to locate and handle the situation should there be asbestos products present in your home.
Read more about: What to Expect with Asbestos Testing
Asbestos Inspection – What to Expect with Asbestos Testing
If inspectors find asbestos in your home, they may suggest a complete removal of the mineral. This process is called abatement, or encapsulation. During this process, the products containing asbestos are coated with a sealant that prevents its fibers from becoming airborne. If the damage to the materials is extensive enough, they will need to be completely removed from your home. Once out of your home, the materials are typically taken to a landfill that is properly equipped to handle toxic materials.
Frequently Asked Questions
What is asbestos?
Asbestos is a mineral fiber that occurs in rock and soil. The six types of asbestos are chrysotile, crocidolite, amosite, anthophyllite asbestos, tremolite asbestos, and actinolite asbestos. Learn more about asbestos.
Where can I find asbestos?
Known for its fiber strength and heat resistance, asbestos has been used in a variety of building construction materials for insulation and as a fire retardant. Asbestos can be found in a wide variety of building materials including fireproofing, pipe insulation, roofing felts and tars, ceiling and floor tiles, joint compound, and mastics.
How can people be exposed to asbestos?
Asbestos fibers may be released into the air by the disturbance of asbestos-containing material during demolition, building or home maintenance, repair, and remodeling. In general, exposure may occur only when the asbestos-containing material is disturbed or damaged in some way to release fibers into the air.
What does friable vs. non-friable mean?
Friable means that a material is able to be reduced to a powder by hand pressure. Asbestos-containing materials that are friable have a much greater tendency to release fibers into the air. Conversely, non-friable asbestos-containing materials do not easily release their fibers into the air. Non-friable materials must be mechanically impacted to release fibers. Asbestos-containing floors, mastics, and siding are considered non-friable materials.
Does asbestos really cause cancer?
Asbestos exposure can result in mesotheliomas, a cancer of the thin membranes lining the chest and abdomen. It has also been found to cause cancer in the lungs, larynx, and ovaries.
Many studies have shown that the combination of smoking tobacco and asbestos exposure is especially hazardous.
Am I required to have an asbestos survey?
The EPA and NESHAP require that you perform a survey to determine the presence of asbestos in a public building before doing a renovation or demolition. You must also notify the Texas Department of State Health services before you start a project.
Are all asbestos surveys the same?
No. There are three types of asbestos surveys.
- Asbestos Management Survey – Locates the presence and extent of any suspect ACMs (asbestos-containing materials) in the building
- Pre-Refurbishment Asbestos Survey – Needed before any refurbishment or demolition work is performed
- Pre-Demolition Asbestos Survey – Needed before any demolition work is carried out
The most appropriate asbestos survey depends on the client and the specific property requirements.
How long does asbestos testing take?
Typically, the amount of time required for asbestos testing including waiting on lab results can be anywhere from 24 hours up to three weeks, depending on the type of survey. In many cases, you can expedite the results for a higher fee. Most results take about 10 to 15 days from testing.
Is an asbestos test and removal covered by home insurance?
Asbestos surveys, testing, and abatement aren’t typically covered by homeowners’ insurance. This is because most of the asbestos found in older homes is relatively stable and does not need remediation if it is left undisturbed. However, in the event of demolition or other construction, it may be best to have the asbestos removed. This is why it is so important for homebuyers to have a home inspection done prior to purchasing the home so they know if there is any asbestos present.
What if asbestos-containing material is found?
Asbestos-containing materials (ACMs) that have not been damaged or disturbed likely don’t present a health risk. If it is in good condition, it may be better just to leave it alone as long as it won’t be disturbed by remodeling. ACMs release fibers when they are either disturbed, damaged, improperly removed, or repaired. This includes if they are handled, torn, cut, hit, sanded, rubbed, sawed, drilled, or scraped.
Visually inspect ACMs over time for any signs of wear or water damage. If the ACMs are exposed to extreme airflow or vibration, then you may want to consider it having it removed. Otherwise, limit access to the area and try to avoid touching or disturbing the material.
If there’s a chance that you will make changes to your home that could result in disturbing the ACMs or if you need to perform repairs in the area, then you’ll want to hire a trained and accredited asbestos removal company.
What is an asbestos management plan?
Asbestos management plans are required in order to provide documentation of the asbestos response actions, the location of the asbestos, and any actions needed to either repair or remove the ACMs.
An asbestos management plan is typically used for non-domestic premises where ACMs can pose a threat to individuals or the environment.
The Environmental Protection Agency provides instructions for those developing their AMP under the Asbestos Hazard Emergency Response Act (AHERA).
Who can remove asbestos?
The EPA states that the average person should not, under any circumstances, try to remove ACMs from their home themselves. There are strict regulations on how to handle and dispose of asbestos-containing materials.
The safest and easiest method to remove asbestos from your home is by hiring an asbestos abatement company. These companies have experience working with asbestos including the necessary tools and materials.
Hiring professionals also helps protect your health and the health of your family.
How is asbestos removed?
An asbestos abatement removal crew wears specialized suits and respirators to protect themselves from inhaling any asbestos fibers. Nearby people will need to be evacuated during the removal process until the area is clear of any asbestos and dust.
The crew begins by sealing off the area they’re working in to keep the asbestos fibers contained and prevent the contamination of other areas of the home or building. A specially designed class H vacuum is used to ensure that no fibers are expelled back into the area. Standard HEPA filters are not enough when it comes to dealing with asbestos fibers.
The removed asbestos is wrapped and taped in special sealing materials. It is then either disposed of in a landfill as hazardous waste material or recycled into harmless silicate glass.
Want more information about removal?
Reach out to the professionals at Precision Environmental Services for more questions regarding asbestos surveys, testing, or asbestos remediation.
Our highly skilled asbestos survey teams can help you with any asbestos-related problems from survey queries, asbestos questions, or general asbestos advice.
What other air quality issues do I need to worry about?
In addition to asbestos, you may want to look into other air quality testing and remediation. Many older homes that were built with ACMs could be at a higher risk of other issues due to their age and construction requirements at the time they were built.
For example, many older homes do not meet the ventilation standards of today. As a result, it’s likely that there could be excess moisture trapped in your home that could contribute to mold growth. In addition, if you’ve not updated your plumbing then there’s a good chance there may be a leak you’re unaware of that could also contribute to mold.
In order to have a safe and healthy home or business, it’s important to ensure you’re keeping up with changes in the science regarding building materials as well as indoor air quality. Precision Environmental Services is happy to discuss any worries you may have regarding either of these issues.
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