A Guide to the Asbestos Removal Process

danger asbestos removal

It’s no secret: Asbestos removal from a residential or commercial property is important because asbestos is a toxic substance. One that poses a health hazard to those exposed to it over a period of time. Asbestos was a common building material until its toxicity—which can cause respiratory diseases and types of cancer—became public knowledge in the 1970s.

The problem is that asbestos had been widely used in building materials for about every type of structure—schools, churches, office buildings, ships, department stores, grocery stores, and residential housing—from the 1930s and 1940s to the late 1970s and 1980s.

Where Asbestos Typically Found?

Though, as a building material, asbestos is commonly associated with insulation, it was also used to make many products and components for material inside and outside of houses and buildings. In older homes, and structures like warehouses, offices, factories, garages, etc., the potential for some asbestos-made material can also be found in:

  • roof gutters 
  • outlet switches
  • roof felt shingles 
  • artificial fireplace logs
  • incandescent light fixtures
  • acoustic ceiling tile 
  • vinyl tiling and linoleum flooring and adhesives
  • window sill putty 
  • pipe and furnace insulation and duct tape
  • siding and undersheeting
  • electrical outlets and switches
  • recessed lighting fixtures

The current estimate is that approximately 30 million commercial and residential buildings in the U.S. have significant amounts of asbestos material in them. If you have an older property and are planning to renovate, remodel, repair or demolish sections of it you should schedule an asbestos inspection first by a licensed and certified asbestos removal inspector.

Leave Asbestos Removal to the Professionals–Here’s Why!

Materials containing asbestos, if left undisturbed, pose minor risks as long as the material remains intact. However, the risks increase when the material is damaged, disturbed or begins to disintegrate. The latter is inevitable, and if you work or live in an older building with flooring and walls showing their age, it may be time for an inspection as well.

The asbestos removal process is not difficult, but it is detailed and does require expertise by qualified and certified professionals. Do not remove asbestos yourself! It is not a DIY project. Its removal and disposal are governed by local, state, and federal laws. More importantly, you will present a health risk to yourself, your family, employees, guests, customers, and so on. There is a process. Here is a guide for what to expect if asbestos removal is necessary for your property:

Start with an Asbestos Inspection

Before any construction project begins in an older building begins, have a certified asbestos professional or inspector, i.e., someone who has gone through and passed an EPA-approved training program, perform a visual inspection of the house or building. The inspector will identify any material made of asbestos or take samples for testing of any suspected material. You will receive a written evaluation of the inspection. If asbestos is found in the building, the material, its location and a detailed recommendation for its removal (or status) will be provided.

The Asbestos Abatement Process

The asbestos removal, referred to as abatement, from your property, must be done by an asbestos abatement company certified by the state’s governing agency. It must be done according to regulation to ensure safety. Octagon Cleaning & Restoration have certified asbestos abatement specialists for the handling, removal, and disposal of asbestos material from your property.

  1. Before work begins you should receive a written contract detailing plans for removal and details of local, state, and federal regulations that must be followed. This includes the necessary notification requirements and permits for local agencies, and procedurally, the removal, transport, and disposal of the asbestos material.
  2. The area of work must be properly identified and sealed off. The site must be clearly marked hazardous, and be completely partitioned from the rest of the property, including ventilation, with plastic sheeting or temporary walls. Air and heating systems should be shut off during the work to prevent asbestos fibers from becoming airborne and spreading throughout the building.
  3. The team handles asbestos waste to limit and reduce the risk of the fibers becoming airborne. Material is wetted and removed as is, not broken into smaller pieces, to prevent the release of hazardous fibers. Keeping the material wet further reduces the fibers from becoming airborne during removal and cleanup.
  4. As cleanup progresses, the worksite will remain free of debris. All asbestos material will be bagged and labeled for removal. Workers wear protective clothing, eyewear, and respiratory masks. To prevent contamination to any other part of the building or house, the worksite is washed and cleaned daily with wet mops and towels. Only HEPA filtered (High-efficiency particulate air) vacuums are used to clean the air and all surface areas of lingering asbestos dust.
  5. After the asbestos removal is completed and the site is thoroughly cleaned, an air test will be conducted to ensure the house or building is free of asbestos. You will receive a written guarantee of the work done, that the structure has passed an air quality inspection, and that it is safe to resume daily activities in the area.

If you have any questions about getting an inspection or about the asbestos removal process, contact one of our experts today

Schedule Asbestos Removal with a DEP Licensed Professional