Till a few decades ago, asbestos was integral part of a construction industry. Asbestos was widely used in building houses and offices and industrial complexes (and is still is in many countries). Asbestos ones considered to be a very useful mineral has now become a serious danger to life of people across the world as its exposure is associated with fatal diseases such as asbestosis, lung cancer and mesothelioma. To decrease the risks of health hazards caused by asbestos, today in most of the developed countries the use of asbestos is either banned or is restricted to only a few products. While by these regulations, asbestos penetration has decreased but what about houses, products, building which had asbestos and still in use? How do you tackle it? It is important to understand why asbestos is harmful before discussing how to tackle it.
What makes asbestos harmful?
Asbestos fibres are very thin and light. They are 700-1,000 times smaller than human hair. Thus ones suspended in air they remain there for hours and days. These fibres when inhaled are stuck in or lungs, tissues and other organs leading to fatal diseases as our body does not have a mechanism to purge them. It is important to note that stable asbestos in a pipe or tile is not harmful unless its fibres are released and go in our body. These fibres will only be released when the tile is drilled, broken, etc.
Thus, the area of concern are not stable and working products but broken, degraded and repaired ones.
What if you find asbestos in your house?
If after proper lab testing (remember you cannot find presence of asbestos through naked eye, nor you should try to do so, as its exposure can be very dangerous) asbestos is confirmed in your house, you will have to decide whether you will go for abatement of asbestos or not. This decision of using asbestos abatement services is based on the following factors:
- If the location / product is broken / damaged / degraded
- If you plan to renovate that part / product
- If you plan to completely bring down you house and construct a new one
If any of the above is yes, then abatement is absolutely required. In some case state enforcement agencies also order abatement in public interest.
In case answers to the above is not yes, then you may not go for abatement. Please remember, the condition of asbestos containing location of product can degrade in future and thus you will have to do this assessment again at that time.
Do not wake up the sleeping dragon
Government agencies insist that if the asbestos is well trapped in a product, such as a tile or boiler etc. then it is safe. In such conditions it is unnecessary to go for abatement as it is an expensive process.
Asbestos abatement Process
If asbestos abatement is absolutely required engage a good asbestos abatement agency. These are qualified and well equipped professionals which are trained to deal with such situations. It is important to engage a good agency as the process is complicated and has to be executed to perfection. It is advised that you get a agency which is certified by government.
The abatement process is difficult because of locations where asbestos is generally used – roofs, floor tiles, pipes, boilers, etc. It is dangerous when asbestos start crumbling and fraying.
Steps in asbestos abatement
- The first step is to remove all furniture and every other item in the vicinity.
- The area is then completely sealed off. This is to ensure that the fibres which can remain in air for long should not get to other places in the house.
- Based on the requirement of the site, the product is either removed or repaired. In both cases proper care is taken so that asbestos fibre does not leak out. To do this it is soaked in water. Small layers of asbestos are taken till work is complete
- The collected asbestos along with used gadgets / suits etc. are packed in air tight bags
- These bags are disposed off at specific asbestos disposal sites
How to hire a good asbestos abatement firm?
It is very important to hire a good asbestos abatement company. The work the company will do will decide how your house becomes after the process. Some simple tips to identify such firm:
- Asbestos abatement is a complex process and thus a good agency will have all certifications and licenses in place which can be checked and verified from Govt. offices.
- Getting recommendations from previous clients is a great way to select them
- Check over internet for potential frauds / issues which are available in mass media against the company
- Collect estimates of the budget and schedule before finalizing the firm
- Things can go wrong during abatement process, conform if the abatement company has proper insurance covers for the same
- It is better to go for experienced firms which have been around for longer durations as compared to younger ones
Doing your own asbestos abatement
Asbestos abatement is an expensive process and thus many people take matter in their own hands. This is very dangerous. If as a homeowner you want to do abatement you need to have proper training, licenses, etc. and should have filled up all required forms for the procedure.
Asbestos abatement is dangerous process, if you are not trained equipped you are likely to do more harm than good by doing it yourself. A wrong step can spread asbestos fibres in your whole house posing great risk to you and your family.
Thus, if you really want to carry asbestos abatement yourself, make sure to get training before that. Government agencies insists that abatement be done by trained people only.
Asbestos abatement is recommended if you find frayed, exposed, degrading asbestos product in your house. If the asbestos products are working fine, they do not require any abatement at that time. If abatement is necessary, make sure you hire a genuine asbestos abatement firm and do not do it yourself.