“Currently, about 125 million people in the world are exposed to asbestos at the workplace. According to the most recent WHO estimates, more than 107 000 people die each year from asbestos-related lung cancer, mesothelioma and asbestosis resulting from exposure at work. One in every three deaths from occupational cancer is estimated to be caused by asbestos. In addition, it is estimated that several thousand deaths annually can be attributed to exposure to asbestos in the home.”“Currently, about 125 million people in the world are exposed to asbestos at the workplace. According to the most recent WHO estimates, more than 107 000 people die each year from asbestos-related lung cancer, mesothelioma and asbestosis resulting from exposure at work. One in every three deaths from occupational cancer is estimated to be caused by asbestos. In addition, it is estimated that several thousand deaths annually can be attributed to exposure to asbestos in the home.”
Commonly found in older structures, asbestos is a naturally occurring mineral which may be present in a number of building materials and can be disturbed by fire, water, or other structural damage, and become a health hazard. Although many people assume that asbestos is banned in the US , the federal law prohibiting its use was overturned in 1991 (more information). Asbestos containing building materials may be present even in new structures, and the law generally does not require that it be removed, though there are specific regulations for schools and other public facilities.
It is impossible to tell without laboratory testing what materials contain asbestos, though most do not present a hazard unless the material is damaged, releasing fibers into the air. Whenever asbestos is discovered in a building, it is important to seal off the affected area and restrict entry in order to prevent potentially deadly exposure and cross-contamination. A licensed inspector should be called to evaluate the potential for exposure, and to take samples for laboratory testing. If the presence of asbestos is confirmed by testing, a licensed asbestos contractor should be called in to complete the abatement process. Options for managing asbestos include encapsulating (sealing) undamaged materials, and removing materials so that they can be disposed of in a special landfill. It is recommended that homeowners and business owners not attempt to sample or remove asbestos-containing materials themselves, as improper removal may be hazardous. Asbestos-containing waste must be disposed of in landfills specially designated for this type of material, so that is doesn’t present a danger to the public. The government imposes strict punishment including fines on individuals and contractors who improperly dispose of these materials.
Asbestos abatement is regulated by the National Emission Standards for Hazardous Air Pollutants (NESHAP) and state law, so it is important to carefully plan and document removal procedures, and to notify state agencies of the planned work, whether it pertains to demolition or renovation of a structure. We take care to discuss thoroughly any plan of action with our customers before beginning, so that everyone is satisfied that the abatement will eliminate the threat to health, and will comply with the law for removal and disposal of dangerous waste.
From removal, encapsulation, and restoration, USR is licensed, insured, and experienced in hazardous materials projects. As required by law, we only use professionals who have the training and licensing to perform abatement in a safe and legal manner, and we will happily provide potential customers with documentation of our qualifications and references. We also work with independent Asbestos Inspectors and Air Sampling Professionals who can provide you with lab reports on the composition of your building materials, and reports on air quality before, during, and after abatement.
Lead paint is frequently found in older buildings, (particularly those built before 1978) and must be carefully removed to prevent exposure of workers or building occupants. Other building materials may also contain lead, especially older plumbing systems, and any potential sources of lead exposure including air, soil, or water contamination, should be investigated by a professional to determine the extent of the problem and the measures necessary to reduce the associated risks. Lead abatement is regulated by OSHA (29 CFR 1926.62), so it is important that the work be done by a licensed and insured professional.
After an inspection determines that lead is present, a certified risk assessor should be called in to determine the extent of the problem, and a licensed contractor such as US Restoration can then begin the process of removing or encapsulating the hazardous material. Lead paint, or other building materials containing more than 1.0 mg/cm² or .5 % by weight of lead must be treated as hazardous waste, and abatement services are always recommended in such cases to remove the contaminants and restore safe working or living conditions. (Wakefield 2002; EPA: Questions About the Disposal of Lead-Contaminated Items 2010)
Children are more susceptible to lead poisoning than adults, and often ingest or inhale lead dust from soil or flaking paint which can cause serious developmental problems. In children and adults, the effects of lead poisoning include, but are not limited to, neurological, hematological, renal, and cardiovascular problems, which may not be evident until damage is severe and irreversible. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention maintain records on lead statistics by state, where you can see the percent of children with elevated blood lead levels in your area.
It is always a good idea to have an independent lab test paint and water samples in older homes to determine whether or not lead is present. If exposure is suspected, a blood test can be requested to confirm lead poisoning in children or adults. Regular cleaning with damp cloths and HEPA vacuums can reduce the risk to occupants, but in the long term, it is safer to have a qualified contractor evaluate the contaminated materials so that they can be removed or encapsulated as appropriate.
For more information, please refer to:
Environmental Protection Agency. 2010. “Questions About the Disposal of Lead- Contaminated Items” Accessed April 12, 2011
Environmental Protection Agency. 2010. “The Lead Safe Certified Guide to Renovate Right.”Accessed April 11, 2011