Asbestos Removal Guidelines for Contractors and Homeowners
Asbestos removal can be done legally in residential homes by homeowners or contractors as long as there is no violation of state or federal standards covering non-regulated hazardous air pollutants.
Despite its bad name, asbestos is an excelling thermal insulating material, it is very resistant to heat, and it is still manufactured and allowed in certain building materials and applications. But armed with a bit of information, you can allay any fears you might have regarding possible exposure during asbestos removal.
Removing Friable and Non-Friable Asbestos
Asbestos is generally classified as either friable or non-friable. Asbestos products made from materials that contain less than 1% of asbestos and can be easily crushed to powder in the hand are called friable, and materials that contain more than 1% and cannot be pulverized are called non-friable.
The friable state is the one to be concerned with; thats when the asbestos fibers can become airborne during removal. These microscopic particles can stay in the air for a long time and, if inhaled, can become permanently lodged in tissue in the lungs. Once inside the body, these fibers have been linked to life-threatening respiratory illnesses such as asbestosis, lung cancer and mesothelioma cancer.
Removal of Asbestos and Government Regulations
Because of these deadly health risks, the government has passed laws regarding asbestos removal and special handling of friable material. Most public and commercial buildings must be first inspected by a certified inspector working in the asbestos industry prior to any demolition or remodeling.
Guidelines for Contractors
But what about hiring a crew of roofers, or a contractor to install new siding on your home? How do the regulations governing the removal of asbestos affect them? In most communities, work on residential homes involving asbestos roofing, siding and shingles is exempt since this work is not likely to release friable materials unless the asbestos is cut, sawed, drilled or otherwise damaged. Since roofing contractors do not perform other asbestos correction type work, they are likely exempt as well.
Guidelines for Homeowners
Homeowners can do their own work as well as long as they follow safety guidelines. In many renovation projects where asbestos is present (floor tiles and siding being the two most common), the general practice is to leave the old in place and install new material over it. In areas where the asbestos material has to be removed (such as shingles), they must be must be disposed of in a landfill approved for such hazardous material. This type of information and other regulations regarding asbestos removal and handling is readily available from your citys building department.
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