During my time in construction I have worked on a number of jobs that have asbestos containing material (ACM). The safe removal and treatment of this material often involves alot of extra work. In this article I will cover basics of identification, removal and shed some light on different disposal methods.
Asbestos has been around for a very long time. Truth be told, aside from the health drawbacks, it's pretty amazing stuff. Asbestos is a light, strong and fire retardant material which make it ideal for building components. Unfortunately, all of those benefits come with a catch, it's main drawback is that it's a carcinogen or cause of cancer.
Asbestos was used in buildings and all sorts of every day materials up until the 60s and 70s. The material has since been banned in most country's but many of the structures we now work in (and renovate) contain old materials. Below is a list of just SOME of the materials that can be asbestos containing:
If you have a building that was built or renovated prior to the 2000's there is a good chance that there may be some form of asbestos lingering in your building.
Asbestos Processes and Procedures
Your first step if you think you may have an ACM in your building (or even if you don't suspect it) is to hire a consultant. The consultant will do a survey of your property and identify anything that is containing, by both destructive and non-destructive testing.
Once you have an understanding of what is within your building, it's important to treat it properly. If the asbestos is not disturbed it does not pose a problem. For example, if you have a wall that is asbestos containing and it is never touched, there is relatively little risk with the material. The issue comes when it is altered or moved in someway, causing the asbestos particles to be airborne.
In order to remove the contaminated material properly it is time to call another professional. There are plenty of demolition companies that specialize in hazardous material removal. These companies and their workers and trained and certified on these contaminants in order to safely remove them.
There are many requirements for the safe removal of asbestos, and these will change based on your region and local requirements, however in general removal includes the following:
Disposal of Asbestos
If you have hired a company to properly remove the asbestos containing material they will be responsible for the proper disposal. There are a few ways in which asbestos is disposed of which I have outlined for your below:
Asbestos in all situations should be treated properly. If your contract is a construction management type contract the ownership may fall on you to remove the material.
The negative health affects related to exposure include lung cancer and death. Often times these effects don't appear until many years after. Always be sure to consult professionals every time you need to deal with building materials in order to ensure it is properly identified and disposed of.