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How to Remove Asbestos

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Written by Dthere   

Asbestos is a material that has been used in buildings (insulation, roofing, tiles, plasterboard, plumbing insulation, stucco, furnace or boiler insulation, ventilation duct insulation, and bricks; Hughley, 2009; Mesothelioma Treatment & Resource Center, 2009) because it is strong and resistant to high heat and chemicals. Asbestos is hazardous to handle producing airborne fibers which are carcinogenic and can lead to cancer and mesothelioma (a rare cancer which affects the linings of the lungs and abdomen which may "cause shortness of breath, fluid build-up, chest pain, hoarseness, coughing up blood, muscle weakness, paralysis, sensory loss and swelling of the face and arms"; Subramanian, 2009, p.1) (Washington State Department of Labor & Industries, 2009; ATSDR, 2009).

Asbestos should be removed only if it is flaking or crumbling. Asbestos which is in good shape can be encapsulated with a coating. However, this method is temporary often making it more difficult to remove asbestos later. "Different asbestos-containing materials (ACMs) are removed by different methods, but the one thing they have in common is to avoid filling the air with the kind of dust that's taken for granted in other demolition or renovation projects. The most general method that works well for asbestos is moisture. Though fibers do not dissolve in water, it does stick to them enough to make them settle quickly to the floor with the other components of their matrix"(Asbestos.com, 2010).

The State of Utah Division of Air Quality (2009) recommended testing first since not all spray-on texture ceiling coating contains asbestos (hiring a certified asbestos inspector is preferable; Asbestos.com, 2010). A small sample can be sent to a laboratory. Samples are acquired by spraying a few sections of ceiling with water mixed with a few drops of liquid detergent. Using a putty knife small square inch samples are scraped at three or four locations with contents placed in a zip-lock bag (recommended wearing a mask while engaged in this process).

One can either hire a certified asbestos abatement contractor or perform removal oneself. The State of Utah Division of Air Quality (2009) recommended that a physician should be consulted before using a respirator since a respirator places increased demands on the heart and lungs. Disposable overalls, disposable gloves, and rubber boots should be used. The State of Utah Division of Air Quality (2009) recommended the use of three workers: Two to perform the abatement work and one worker to stand by to provide water, tools, and supplies.

Asbestos should be thoroughly soaks with water prior to removal in order to limit the exposure of free fibers. Removing dry asbestos can contaminate a whole area. In cases where wetting the exposed area does not work, hire a certified asbestos abatement contractor. All floors and walls should be covered and taped with plastic sheet so that all material can be contained. Dispose of debris by carefully packing it in plastic sealed by duct tape (remove the largest pieces possible to reduce dust; Asbestos.com, 2010).

The asbestos containment area should include warning signs, removal of all furniture, turning off all appliances and electrical fixtures/devices, covering all AC or heating ducts, lighting should be powered by a grounded external electrical source, and the taping of all exposed electrical wires.

Tips to reflect upon:

Consult your state requirements regarding the disposition of asbestos. It is recommended that you use a certified asbestos removal specialist The property owner is liable for the consequences of asbestos removal even if he or she uses a certified abatement specialist. However, hiring a certified specialist may reduce your liability.


Washington State Department of Labor & Industries - http://www.lni.wa.gov/tradeslicensing/licensingreq/asbestos/default.asp Hometips: Is Asbestos Removal Required? - http://www.hometips.com/articles/asbestos3.html State of Utah Division of Air Quality: Asbestos Removal Procedures for Home Owners -
http://www.airquality.utah.gov/HAPs/ASBESTOS/info/asbstrem.htm Agency for Toxic Substances & Disease Registry - http://www.atsdr.cdc.gov/asbestos/ Hugley, G. (2009, January 3). Important facts about Asbestos and Asbestos removal - http://www.atsdr.cdc.gov/asbestos/ Subramanian, B. R. (2009, February 2). Caution – Mesothelioma - http://ezinearticles.com/?Caution---Mesothelioma&id=1948681 Mesothelioma Treatment & Resource Center - http://www.mesotheliomatreatmentcenters.org/asbestos-removal/ Asbestos.com - http://www.asbestos.com/abatement/removal.php

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