Asbestos is a naturally occurring mineral that is made up of tiny, pointed fibers. In fact, asbestos includes several different minerals with the same characteristics. You are probably most familiar with asbestos from the diseases mesothelioma and asbestosis, but your grandparents’ generation would have known it as an excellent building material. Asbestos fibers are strong and resistant to heat. Contrary to popular conception, there is no blanket ban on the use of asbestos in manufacturing.

What Is Asbestos?

As mentioned in the intro, asbestos is a naturally occurring mineral. Its fibers are strong, flexible, and resistant to heat. These traits make it an ideal component of many building materials. It’s durable and makes the products last longer. Unfortunately, those same characteristics also present a pretty significant health hazard.

Because of the shape and size of the fiber, when inhaled it becomes trapped in your lungs. Over the course of time, the fiber causes inflammation and scarring of the lung tissue. This process leads to the cancerous disease called mesothelioma and the non-cancerous disease asbestosis. Both are progressive lung diseases and are exclusively linked to asbestos exposure.

Where Does Asbestos Come From?

Asbestos is a mined mineral that comes straight from the earth.

It is found throughout North America and the rest of the world. Currently, other developed countries actively export asbestos for use in manufacturing.

Where Is Asbestos Found?

There is no current blanket ban on the manufacture or import of asbestos-containing products. You can still find asbestos in products such as roofing tars, brakes, and more.

That said, many of the products that carry the highest exposure have been regulated or simply discontinued use of the fiber.

You can find asbestos in many many building materials pre-dating the 1990s. The most common suspects are vinyl flooring, pipe insulation, drywall joint compound, roofing products, cement siding and more.

While the use of asbestos declines sharply after 1990, it still shows up in newer homes. You can never rule out the possibility of asbestos in building materials.

Asbestos Exposure Risks

The majority of patients with asbestos related diseases are older men who were exposed through their occupation. This is because the diseased have a long latency period. As the fibers build in your lungs, it can take up to 20 years for the damaged and related diseases to present.

While long term exposure puts a person at higher risk, studies have shown that there is no “safe threshold” of exposure.

Practically speaking, it today’s world, your risk of asbestos exposure comes during renovations or demolitions of buildings that have asbestos containing building materials.

When these materials come under the force of sledgehammers, wrecking bars, and bulldozers, they are pulverized into dust. In the process, asbestos fibers are released into the air and you are at risk of exposure.

How To Identify Asbestos

The only way to detect asbestos is by evaluating it under a microscope. While there are several products that so well know they are generally assumed to contain asbestos, there are many more lesser-known products.

The first step in identifying asbestos fibers is to properly identify the materials that may contain the fiber. This is where a professional asbestos inspector comes into play. Many homeowners miss material simply because they are unaware. A professional can ensure all risk areas are identified.

After identifying suspect materials, samples are collected and sent to a laboratory for evaluation.

Asbestos is a tricky subject that is often misunderstood. But what is asbestos anyway? And why should you be concerned with it?

The simple fact is that asbestos is a very common component of many building materials from vinyl flooring to wallboard to roofing tar. When you embark on a project that will disturb these materials, extra care must be taken to prevent exposure to asbestos fibers.

Asbestos removal is probably not something you were hoping to deal with in your renovation project, but with a little education and planning, and the right contractor to assist, it is something that can be safely delt with.

A Brief History

Asbestos is a naturally occurring mineral. It has a few properties that make it a very good ingredient for many building materials. Most notably, it is very strong and very heat resistant.

For these reasons, it has been used as a binder in many products such as joint compound, vinyl flooring, cement siding, roofing tars, caulks, etc. It is also commonly found in thermal insulation.

Asbestos was often referred to as the miracle mineral in the early 1900s. It was found in many products manufactured through the 1970s, and even into the ’80s and later.

As we became more aware of the health hazards associated with asbestos, it has significantly reduced in usage. Contrary to what many people believe, however, there is no blanket ban on asbestos and it can still be used in the manufacture of certain products today.

The Health Risk

I’m sure you have seen the Meselthelioma commercials. This is the most known disease associated with asbestos.

I’ll give a shot at greatly oversimplifying a complicates subject.

Asbestos is a mineral. It is tiny. It’s also long and skinny, kind of like a torpedo.

When you inhale asbestos fibers, they are drawn into your lungs but they are not able to escape. This leaves the tiny torpedo fibers in your lungs to bounce around. Since they cannot escape, they keep bouncing every time you breathe. Each time they hit your lung, they make a little bit of scar tissue.

Years and years of this action build up more and more scar tissue. This leads to lung disease called Asbestosis.

Mesothelioma is a similar cancerous disease caused by exposure to asbestos.

The Asbestos Exposure Risk

As we already discussed, asbestos is a very common component of building materials. You have most certainly come in contact with asbestos material many times throughout your life.

The buildings you live, work, and play in have asbestos in the floors, walls, and ceilings.

But… exposure is not that simple.

As you walk across a vinyl floor that contains asbestos, those fibers remain securely locked in the material. Remember that their strength is one of the attractive qualities of the mineral.

You can safely live in a home that has asbestos-containing joint compound for many years. The fact that asbestos fibers are present does not mean that you are being exposed.

The exposure risk comes when those materials degrade or are disturbed, causing fiber release.

How To Identify Asbestos

The only way to identify asbestos-containing materials is to take a sample and look at it under a microscope.

A professional asbestos inspector is trained to identify materials that are suspected to contain asbestos and collect the appropriate samples.

The best rule to follow is that all materials should be assumed to contain asbestos unless laboratory testing has shown they do not contain asbestos, or a professional inspector has determined that the material is not suspected to contain asbestos.

When To Remove Asbestos Containing Materials

In general, asbestos removal is not necessary just because a material is identified.

Rather, materials should be considered for asbestos removal if they meet the following criteria:

  1. They are degraded, crumbling, or otherwise in a condition that could release fibers
  2. They are scheduled for renovation or demolition
  3. You have other specific concerns about the presence of asbestos-containing materials

How Asbestos Removal Works

In the state of Georgia, anyone removing asbestos must be licensed by the state. So, your first step is to contact an asbestos removal company.

From there, they will look at your specific case and develop an appropriate protocol for removing the asbestos.

While each scenario is different, they will all share some commonalities.

  1. All work will be conducted by properly trained and certified workers
  2. All work will be overseen by a properly trained and certified supervisor
  3. Work will be conducted under proper containment and negative air pressure (excluding certain circumstances)
  4. Workers will wear proper personal protective equipment
  5. Workers will wear respiratory protection appropriate for the class of asbestos removal
  6. Wet methods will be used to remove asbestos containing materials
  7. Asbestos containing materials will be bagged and cleaned prior to being removed from the containment area
  8. The work area will be cleaned and HEPA vacuumed prior to removing containment
  9. Asbestos containing waste will be properly disposed of

Who To Call

When you are dealing with asbestos removal, it is important to choose a contractor that is a good fit. There are alot of people out there that will remove asbestos for your project. Some will do it well, some will do it cheaply, and some will be the perfect balance for what you need.

At Branch Environmental we believe that you should be an educated customer. We will take the time to break down your situation and lay out your options. When it comes to abatements, we take the trust you put into us seriously.

Our goal is to get the asbestos out so you can get on with your project. All the while, we take the utmost care to eliminate any health risk to future occupants or workers on the project.

Before starting a demolition or renovation project, there is a good chance you need to get an asbestos inspection. It’s an often overlooked step that is necessary to keep you both safe and in compliance.

In this article, we are going to break down exactly when you need an asbestos inspection in the state of Georgia.

The Short Answer

Cutting to the chase, you need an asbestos inspection before you begin any demolition or renovation project. There. That was easy.

Seriously though, the State of Georgia and in some cases the US EPA require that any structure be inspected for asbestos prior to activities that may potentially disturb asbestos.

Renovation & demolition projects fall into the category of activities that would disturb asbestos containing material, so an inspection must be completed prior to starting.

This rule is enforced on the local level, with municipalities requiring the asbestos inspection prior to issuing a demolition or renovation permit.

Are New Properties Excluded?

No. Contrary to popular belief, it is still legal to manufacture and import goods that contain asbestos. While specific items are regulated, there is no blanket ban on asbestos in manufacturing. Georgia enforces asbestos regulations on properties of any age.

Are There Any Other Exclusions?

A few.

First, Georgia provides an exclusion when less than 10sf of material is being disturbed. This stipulation is provided to prevent an undue burden from being placed on workers completing routine maintenance activities such as patching drywall.

Next, an asbestos inspection is not required for renovation IF you presume all disturbed material does contain asbestos and treat it as such. This means that you don’t have to inspect 9×9 vinyl floor tiles or transite siding if you are going to go ahead and perform an abatement as if they are positive.

Who Can Perform The Asbestos Inspection?

The inspection must be performed by an accredited inspector and include a report that identifies all asbestos containing materials in the facility that might be disturbed by the demolition or renovation.

You can find accredited asbestos inspectors by searching online or, since we are already talking about it, you could just give us a call.

What Will The Inspector Check For?

Your asbestos inspector will start by discussing the project with you and determining the extent of demolition or renovation. From that conversation, they will identify any material that may be disturbed during the renovation that is suspect to contain asbestos.

Suspect materials include things like joint compound, plaster, ceiling texture, vinyl flooring, window glaze, cement siding, pipe insulation, felt duct tape and more.

Basically, if it is not wood, glass, metal, or ceramic we have to presume it contains asbestos until a negative test shows otherwise.

After identifying all the suspect materials, your inspector will collect samples to be analyzed by the laboratory.

It is important to know that asbestos sampling is invasive and requires cutting chunks of material from the building. It also requires exposing wall cavities and lifting finish flooring to find materials that may be hidden. Demolition inspections will require penetrating the roof so provision will need to be made for temporary patching.

While our inspectors are pretty good at keeping sampling locations discreet, if they can’t have full access for invasive sampling they may be limited in the completeness of survey they can perform.

How Long Will It Take To Get Results?

After collecting samples, they will be sent to an accredited laboratory for analysis. These laboratory results are interpreted by the inspector and a report is prepared that tells you what materials do or do not contain asbestos.

This process generally takes about a week. Results can be expedited as necessary.

What Will My Inspection Report Tell Me?

Your asbestos inspection report will show you all the areas of material that were found to contain asbestos.

Any material that contains more than 1% asbestos fibers is then considered a Regulated Asbestos Containing Material.

It is important to note that the samples collected are only representative of the larger area. For example, your inspector may have collected joint compound samples from the living room & kitchen but not the dining room. That does not mean that the dining room is negative. It just means that the inspector used samples from other areas to represent the larger space.

WHY Should I Get An Asbestos Inspection?

That’s a great question.

First, it’s required by law.

Second, it’s just a smart thing to do.

Asbestos is a serious threat to our health. It’s truly not just a bunch of hype and regulation. Around 15,000 deaths each year are attributed to asbestos related diseases.

Asbestos fibers pose a threat when they are inhaled. To be inhaled, the material must be pulverized and turn to dust.

That’s exactly what happens during demolition and renovation when you take a sledgehammer and crowbar to building materials.

Properly handling asbestos is essential to keeping both the workforce and building occupants safe.

What Happens If Asbestos Is Found?

Finding asbestos in your project is an entirely manageable situation. Buildings that contain asbestos are safely renovated every day. It just takes a little more time and a little more money.

If you have found asbestos in your project, start by calling a licensed asbestos contractor to discuss your next steps.

You may think your popcorn ceiling is a bit dated… or you may think it’s downright ugly. Scraping popcorn ceilings is a common DIY project. I urge you to step back a minute and gather some information before you take this project on in your home.

While you may be inspired by that latest home improvement episode, or Pinterest has gotten the better of you… popcorn ceilings can contain hidden dangers that you do not want to expose your home and your family to.

Asbestos is a very common component of acoustic ceiling texture, more commonly known as popcorn ceilings. Simply DIY projects, or even contractor led renovations, can release asbestos fibers into your home if not handled properly.

So What is My Risk of Exposure?

As with most asbestos containing building materials, as long as it is in good shape you really don’t have a lot to worry about. You can safely live in a home with popcorn ceilings and face very little risk of asbestos exposure.

Your risk of exposure increases dramatically if the building material crumbles or becomes deteriorated. Unfortunately, popcorn ceilings are not the most durable and are prone to flaking and falling.

If you have a popcorn ceiling that is showing signs of deterioration, it’s a good idea to figure out if you are dealing with asbestos.

How do I Know if my Popcorn Ceiling Has Asbestos?

As with any other asbestos containing material, it must be analyzed in a laboratory.

You can either collect a sample yourself and drop it off at an environmental firm, or have a licensed asbestos inspector come to your home and collect the sample.

How Likely is it That My Popcorn Ceiling Has Asbestos?

As mentioned before, the only way to know for sure is to sample the material. Popcorn texture is a material that is suspect, and it commonly returns with positive results.

While older homes are more likely to have asbestos, it should be understood that even modern building materials may contain asbestos as well. There is no comprehensive ban on the use of asbestos in manufacturing, and the import of foreign materials is unmonitored.

All popcorn ceilings should be treated as potential asbestos containing material unless proven otherwise.

When Do I Need to Remove a Popcorn Ceiling?

There are two circumstances when an asbestos abatement makes sense:

  1. When you are about to conduct a renovation that will impact the asbestos containing popcorn ceiling in any way.
  2. When the material is deteriorating or damaged, potentially releasing fibers into the air.

How Do You Remove Asbestos Popcorn Ceilings?

Often the best solution is to remove the entire ceiling. This will take care of any and all texture, plus the joint compound that may be positive as well. As far as the abatement is concerned, the cost of removing the ceiling will be only marginally more expensive, though you will have to plan to put the ceiling back as well.

If you do not want to, or do not need to remove the entire ceiling, the asbestos abatement will consist of scraping the texture off. The impacted area will be set up as a containment zone, and all wall and floors will be lined with poly sheeting. The popcorn texture will then be wetted and scraped off.

Because popcorn texture can be difficult to match, it is advisable to go ahead and scrape the entire contiguous ceiling area even if the renovation will only impact a portion.

So What is my Next Step?

Your first step is to determine exactly what you are dealing with. Conducting an Asbestos Inspection will help you know with confidence if you do or do not have asbestos.

If you find that you do have asbestos, you will need a plan to either remove it, or manage it in place.

Managing it in place would mean adjusting your renovation plans to not disturb the material. Left untouched, a popcorn ceiling that contains asbestos will not pose a hazard to the occupants of the home.

If managing in place is not an option, work with an asbestos contractor to plan what type of abatement best meets your needs.


You are about to make one of the biggest investments of your life. Between appraisals, surveys, & inspections… you are shelling out cash in all directions. Then you started thinking about asbestos…

In most real estate transactions, there is no requirement to get an asbestos inspection. But should you anyway?

Let’s dig a little deeper and answer that question.

What Are The Chances The Home Has Asbestos?

Honestly, there is a pretty good chance asbestos is contained somewhere in the home you are about to purchase. Asbestos was an extremely common component of many building materials through the last century. Even though it is less likely, modern materials may still contain asbestos fibers as well.

It is not a long shot to think that asbestos will be present in the home you are about to purchase.

Whoah… Should I Be Scared?

There is no reason to panic. Throughout your life you have been living, working, and playing in buildings that have asbestos materials. For the most part, the asbestos fibers have been safely locked into the components they are a part of. For example, vinyl floor tiles often contain asbestos. You have probably walked across these floors on more than one occasion. The asbestos fibers, however, stay firmly encased in the tiles and present no hazard to you.

Then What Is The Big Deal?

Asbestos presents a very real health hazard when the fibers are released into the air and breathed. In your lungs, asbestos leads to often fatal diseases such as mesothelioma and lung cancer.

So the big deal is when building materials that contain asbestos are disturbed, they release the fibers into the air.

An extreme example of this was the collapse of the World Trade Center. Asbestos materials were pulverized and sent as a cloud over thousands of people. First responders and recovery workers were exposed to these fibers over the months that followed and many are now suffering the health effects.

An example that is more relevant to your question, though, is the removal of an interior wall. You are going to open that living room up just a tad so you take a hammer and crowbar to the wall not realizing that asbestos is present in the joint compound. The drywall demo produces asbestos containing dust that contaminates the room and is sucked into the air conditioner… I think you see where we are going here.

So What Should I Do?

This really comes down to a personal decision. If you are purchasing a home with plans to renovate or improve it, knowing if you have asbestos will help you make a better decision. You can account for the cost of an asbestos abatement in your budget and use the information as you are negotiating the purchase price of the home.

If your renovation will require a permit, you will need an asbestos survey anyway, so you may as well go ahead get it out of the way.

On the other hand, if you do not plan on any renovations or improvements, you can probably move forward without worrying about asbestos.

Reasons You Should Consider An Asbestos Inspection:

  • You are planning to renovate the home.
  • You notice materials that are already deteriorated and/or crumbling.
  • You will be more at peace knowing if asbestos is present or not.
  • You would like to know if there is asbestos so you can properly manage it in place.

Reasons You May Not Need To Worry About An Asbestos Inspection:

  • The home is move-in ready and no renovations are planned.
  • The home was built in the last 10 years.

Armed with this information, you can make the best decision for your circumstance. If you decide that you do not need an asbestos inspection before you buy, move forward with confidence and don’t spend extra time worrying.

If you are still asking the question at this point, an asbestos inspection is a small price to pay for a definitive answer. It will give you more information you can use to make an informed purchasing decision.

An asbestos inspection is a simple step that could save you big time headaches and money down the road. Our inspection teams are committed to not only conducting a professional assessment of your home, but also spending time answering your questions and educating you on how to deal with any asbestos that is discovered.



One of the more common areas we find asbestos in homes is in vinyl floor tiles. Asbestos is found in the tiles themselves as well as the mastic used to adhere them to the floor. Homeowners are often surprised to see the tiles when they pull up old carpet with plans to put down a new floor.

The next question becomes, do I have to remove the tiles, or can I just put the new floor on top of them.

Do The Floor Tiles Contain Asbestos

The first question to answer is if the tiles have asbestos or not. Many tiles in older homes do contain asbestos, and there is no way to tell just by looking.

The most common tiles that are positive are ones that measure 9”x9”. Mastic that is black is also a tell tale sign.

While those are the most common asbestos containing floor tiles, many other tiles and floor coverings can be positive as well. Despite common misconceptions, even new vinyl flooring can contain asbestos.

If you want to know for sure, you can have an asbestos survey conducted or send a sample for analysis.

How Dangerous Are Asbestos Floor Tiles

Once you have confirmed that you do, in fact, have asbestos floor tiles it is helpful to understand a little more about the threat they present.

Asbestos is a fiber that is harmful when it is breathed into your lungs. If the floor tiles are intact and undamaged, there is very little risk that fibers are being released into your home.

If the floor tiles are degraded and crumbling, the risk of fiber release rises.

Often the tiles are in good condition but begin to crumble when tack strips are pulled up from the carpet installation.

Can I Put A New Floor On Top Of Asbestos Tiles

When you are dealing with asbestos, you can either remove it with an abatement or manage it in place. In many cases, installing a new floor over the tiles encapsulates the asbestos fibers and is an acceptable way to manage the material.

That said, it can be difficult to get a level surface for the new floor, especially if the old tiles have chipped away. If you are hiring a flooring company, they may be hesitant to work around asbestos tiles and require you to get an abatement first.

Can I Remove The Damaged Tiles Myself

In Georgia, if you own the home, are doing the work yourself, and you will be the one occupying the dwelling, you are allowed to remove the tiles without hiring an asbestos contractor. Depending on the extent of the damaged tiles, this may or may not be a good idea.

In cases where there are only a few pieces of damaged tiles, you can pick them up and bag them. You will still need to be sure to dispose of them in accordance with solid waste disposal regulations.

If you have more than a few pieces of tile, or if the tiles have begun to crumble into small pieces it is probably a good idea to call in the pros. Properly removing the old mastic is often beyond the scope of a DIY project and most homeowners do not have vacuums that can safely clean any fibers that may remain.

How Do You Abate Floor Tiles And Mastic

The first step to any abatement is establishing containment. The work area is sealed off and all air vents are protected. Negative air is established in the work area. These measures ensure that no asbestos fibers contaminate your house.

Working under containment in proper protective gear, the floor tile is then chipped away and removed. After the floor tile is gone, solvents are used to remove the mastic.

A final cleaning and HEPA vacuuming of all surfaces within the containment zone ensures no fibers remain.

You may feel a bit overwhelmed when you discover that you have asbestos floor tiles. We understand that asbestos is a setback you were not expecting and don’t want to be dealing with. Working with the right asbestos contractor, however, can help you navigate the project efficiently and economically.

Be sure you find a professional who will listen to your objectives and talk you through all the options you have. Don’t settle for a contractor that is only trying to sell you their services.

While asbestos presents a very real health hazard, it is also something that can be managed and the risk can be mitigated. Your asbestos contractor should be your advocate and work towards the ultimate goal of providing you a safe environment to live in.

If you are a contractor working in the state of Georgia, it is important to understand the laws and regulations surrounding asbestos. Most contractors learn the hard way when they are hit with stiff fines for non-compliance. A little education up front will go a long way in making sure you properly check for and remove asbestos from your demolition and renovation projects.

This article is intended to address the most common questions surrounding asbestos, and let you know exactly what it is you need to do before you start your next project.

Legal Authority

Asbestos containing materials in demolition and renovation projects receive oversite from the following:

  • Georgia Department of Natural Resources, Asbestos Program
  • Georgia Department of Natural Resources, Solid Waste Management Program
  • U.S. EPA National Emissions Standard for Hazardous Air Pollutants (NESHAP)
  • U.S. EPA Asbestos Hazard Emergency Response Act (AHERA)
  • OSHA Specific Standards for General Industry
  • Local Codes & Regulations

What do I need to do as a contractor concerning asbestos?

The bottom line: If you are conducting a demolition or renovation project, you must obtain an asbestos survey and notify the Georgia EPD.

As a contractor, the most immediate requirement you will encounter is notification and fees due to the Georgia EPD, Lead-Based Paint and Asbestos Program. The owner or operator of any demolition and/or renovation activity is required to submit a notice of their project to the EPD, regardless of the presence or absence of asbestos.

The first step to completing your notification is to obtain an asbestos survey. A licensed inspector will evaluate your site under AHERA guidelines to determine if there is any friable or non-friable asbestos that will be disturbed during your project.

  • If no asbestos is discovered, you may submit notification directly to the EPD using the proper form found here. No fees are required.
  • If asbestos is discovered, all regulated asbestos-containing material must be abated from the building before demolition and/or renovation. In this case, your abatement contractor will take care of the notification and fees required.

What if my Asbestos Survey found non-friable or other non-regulated asbestos containing material?

The bottom line: Even if your project contains materials that are not regulated by the Georgia EPD Asbestos Program, you must still comply with OSHA and Georgia Solid Waste Disposal laws and regulations.

You may notice this word “Friable” that we keep throwing around. The word friable identifies any material that contains more than 1% asbestos and can be crumbled, pulverized, or reduced to power by hand.

  • Any material that is friable, has become friable, or will become friable during demolition is a Regulated Asbestos Containing Material (RACM).
  • Any material that is Category I or II non-friable, and will remain non-friable during demolition is not a RACM.

These categories and definitions are spelled out by the Georgia EPD, and they have classified each material on their notification forms.

It is important to understand that asbestos containing materials that meet the non-friable definition above are ONLY excluded from Georgia EPD Asbestos Program regulations. OSHA and Solid Waste Disposal rules still apply and must be complied with.

So, how do I dispose of asbestos containing material properly?

The bottom line: Asbestos waste must be double bagged, labeled, and taken to a permitted landfill.

If you have non-friable asbestos containing material, you must follow GA Solid Waste regulations to dispose of it.

You may encounter items such as transite siding panels that have fallen to the ground, asbestos floor tiles that have come loose, or asbestos shingles no longer attached to a roof. If these items are intact and do not need to be removed from the structure with demolition tools, they are most likely non-friable materials. In this case, you are exempt from GA EPD asbestos abatement requirements and can take care of the disposal yourself.

While following OSHA regulations for worker protection:

  • Double bag and seal the materials.
  • Lable each bag with the following statement: “Caution – Contains Asbestos Fibers – Avoid Opening or Breaking Container – Breathing Asbestos is Hazardous to Your Health.”
  • Transport to a permitted landfill and submit a completed waste manifest identifying the type and quantity of asbestos containing material.
  • Note that asbestos materials may not be transported by any garbage truck or vehicle that uses compaction to reduce waste volume.

How do I keep workers safe when working with asbestos?

The bottom line: Hire an asbestos contractor or follow OSHA guidelines.

If you have decided that the asbestos containing material you are dealing with is not regulated by the GA EPD Asbestos Program, and you are going to handle proper disposal on your own… you are still subject to OSHA regulations for worker safety.

OSHA does not make the same distinctions between friable and non-friable materials and requires proper worker protection for most any asbestos containing material. As you can imagine, the OSHA guidelines are complex and have many variables based on different applications. Before you direct your employees to work with or handle asbestos containing materials, you should become familiar with the OSAH guidelines found here.

What about commercial or industrial projects

Commercial and industrial projects open up a whole different level of regulations and concerns. The items discussed above pertain to residential projects only. In addition to what is discussed here, commercial projects are regulated and enforced by the US EPA. If you are on a commercial project, your best bet is to go directly to an asbestos contractor for guidance.

Summing it all up

Asbestos regulations can become confusing very fast. Not only are the fines steep, the health risk for exposure is very real. Taking the time to do you homework will go a long way in handling asbestos properly. Most often, your best bet is to find a trusted asbestos contractor to partner with. The right firm will be happy to provide the guidance you need to make the right decision on your next project.

You have probably seen the class-action commercials on TV, but how much do you really know about asbestos? Your great-granddad may have been exposed to it on a Navy ship in World War II, or maybe you know someone suffering the effects of exposure after the World Trade Center collapsed. Chances are, you don’t stop to think about asbestos in your everyday life.

As a contractor, it is smart to educate yourself about the health risks of asbestos and the potential fines for improperly disturbing it. Asbestos is a fiber that is found in many common building materials and leads to lung diseases such as Mesothelioma. As these building materials are disturbed during renovation, workers and building occupants can be exposed to asbestos.

Here are five fast-facts every contractor should know about absestos.

1: Asbestos is regulated and enforced by the Georgia DNR Environmental Protection Division

Even if your local building department does not ask for your proof of compliance with asbestos rules, as a contractor in Georgia you are still subject to state regulations and enforcement. It is wise to know what you are dealing with so you are ready if a state inspector stops by your job site.

2: All demolition and certain renovation projects are required to comply with asbestos notification requirements

If you are conducting a demolition or renovation activity you must:

  • Obtain a site survey for asbestos from an accredited inspector.
  • Submit a written notice of your intent to the Georgia Environmental Protection Division on this form. The notice must be submitted for all projects, even if asbestos was not discovered.

These requirements must be followed by any contractor doing any renovation or demolition work. Unlike lead laws, there is no age limit to houses that must be surveyed for asbestos.

3: If asbestos is discovered, a mandatory 10-day waiting period is enforced before demolition can begin

If your site survey reveals regulated asbestos material that will be disturbed during your renovation, you are required to conduct an asbestos abatement prior to beginning the project. In this case, a licensed abatement contractor will submit the notification to the state. A waiting period of 10 business days must pass between the notification and abatement.

If your site survey did not reveal asbestos, you must still submit notification to the GAEPD, but you are not subject to the 10 day waiting period or any fees.

4: Asbestos fibers are found in many common building materials

As a renovation contractor, you routinely disturb materials that may release asbestos fibers into the air. While older homes have a higher likelihood of containing asbestos, there is no cut-off year. There are no regulations that completely prohibit the use of asbestos in manufacturing so any home can potentially contain asbestos fibers.

Some of the most common building materials that contain asbestos are:

  • Drywall and Joint Compound
  • Wall and Ceiling Texture
  • Floor Tiles and Vinyl Floor Coverings
  • Mastics and Adhesives
  • Pipe Insulation
  • Roofing Tar
  • Transite Siding
  • Window Caulk and Glazing

5: Asbestos presents a true risk to you as a contractor, and occupants of the home you are working in

Regulations can often feel burdensome and frivolous. The truth is asbestos fibers produce a very real health hazard when they are released into the air and breathed. Asbestos is the sole cause of Mesothelioma, an aggressive cancer of the lungs. It also is the source of Asbestosis, a chronic lung disease. According to the National Institute for Occupational Health and Safety: “all levels of asbestos exposure studied to date have demonstrated asbestos-related disease”

During the course of a home renovation, tasks such and tearing out drywall can release large volumes of asbestos fibers into the air in the form of dust. The fibers can travel throughout the building and be sucked into HVAC systems. This presents a risk not only to the workers immediately breathing the fibers but to occupants that will return to live and work in the building.


Great Question! I am glad you asked.

Maybe you are interested in the health of your family and the people that will be working in your home. Maybe you are just trying to do the job right and comply with local regulations. Maybe someone has spooked you with the word Asbestos, or maybe you saw a commercial with a word like mesothelioma. Bottom line is: you want to be sure everyone is safe, your project can move forward, and you are not spending money on unnecessary tests.

What is Asbestos Anyway?

Asbestos is a mineral fiber that is very strong and has great heat resistance. Because of these properties, it was used in many building materials such as insulation and adhesives. Turns out it is also highly toxic and its use is now highly regulated. You don’t really care about the background though…

Is Asbestos in My Home?

The short answer is: very likely yes.

Floor tiles, joint compound, attic insulation, & duct work are some of the common areas you will find asbestos. Even in newer homes, asbestos can be found in materials such as laminate floor covering. Asbestos was so widely used, it is present in many homes.

Contrary to popular belief, there is no ban on asbestos containg material in the US, so even new home may contain asbestos in different materials.

Hold On! I am Living With Asbestos?!?

You could be. But don’t panic, there is more to the story. What you really want to know is if you need an asbestos inspection, and we are getting to that very soon.

Asbestos becomes hazardous when it is airborne and breathed into your lungs. My guess is that you have not been breathing in floor tiles or shingles for the past decade. That asbestos is locked firmly into those products and has most likely not been putting you at risk of exposure.

Some materials, however, can easily disintegrate and become airborne. You could have more easily been exposed to asbestos in pipe insulation or attic insulation. Again, my guess is that you have not seen prolonged exposure to either of those.

The real risk of asbestos, and the people that those mesothelioma commercials are target to, are people whose professions have put them in repeated contact with airborne asbestos over many years. That is beyond the scope if this article, but you can read more about workplace asbestos exposure here.

So What Now?

If you have areas of your home where you suspect asbestos to be present, and that material is loose or disintegrated, it would be a good idea to have it checked out. If your attic is full of old insulation, or if your pipes are wrapped in cloth that crumbles when touched, you should at least find out what you are dealing with.

If you are just living your day to day life on the same old floor tiles, you don’t have much to worry about.

The real issue becomes remodeling and demolition projects. If you are taking those stable materials and breaking, crushing, or tearing them out… you need to know if asbestos will be released into the air.

Back to The Question: Do I Need an Asbestos Inspection?

Both the EPA and OSHA say that you must physically sample materials that may contain asbestos before they are disturbed. Contrary to popular belief, there is no set year or cut-off date for building construction. Though some counties place a year in their regulations, the fact is any building may contain asbestos and federal guidelines do not discriminate based on age.

Asbestos poses very real health hazards to anyone who may be exposed. Even very small exposures for a short amount of time can yield big consequences down the road. This is not an area you want to cut corners in.

Here is the best way we can lay it out for you:

  • If you are worried and want to know if asbestos is in your home: YES
  • If your family can easily access old, disintegrating insulation: YES
  • If you are remodeling or demolishing: YES
  • If you are about to disturb a material that may contain asbestos: YES
  • If you are not remodeling, and your old hose in sound condition: NO

If you are starting a project in your home, a quick call to your local building department before you start will answer most of your questions. Every jurisdiction handles asbestos a little differently, and following your local regulations for testing can save you big in the long run.

What Happens if I Find Asbestos?

If your test comes back positive, a certified asbestos professional can advise you on the best course of action. You may not have to remove the asbestos at all. If you find asbestos and the material is intact, it may be safely managed in place.

If the materials must be removed, Asbestos abatement must be carried out by specialized crews. The extent of the asbestos contained in your home will determine the scope of your project.

5 reasons to have asbestos inspection

Most people know that asbestos is dangerous to our respiratory health. But why should you hire out an asbestos inspection, and in what situations?

We’ve narrowed down five reasons to call an asbestos inspector out to your home or business.

Reason #1: Health

Asbestos is dangerous. Don’t risk your health or the health of others. Have an asbestos inspection before you unknowingly disturb asbestos containing building materials.

Reason #2: Remodeling and Renovating

Over the years, asbestos has been used in many building materials, including flooring, drywall, drywall joint compound, ceiling textures, ceiling tiles, pipe insulation, mastics, caulks and more.

If you plan to do just about anything more than painting, you may disturb an asbestos containing material. A project as simple as installing recessed lighting will release asbestos fibers if the drywall and/or drywall joint compound contain asbestos. Be proactive and have an asbestos inspection before your next remodeling or renovation project.

Reason #3: Demolition

Partial or entire structure demolition has the potential to not only release asbestos fibers by disturbing asbestos containing materials, but it can also result in the creation of a hazardous waste site.

Improper demolition of asbestos containing materials may result in a contaminated demolition site and a contaminated dump site if the waste is not disposed properly. Who wants to be responsible for cleaning up a hazardous waste site? Protect yourself by having an asbestos inspection before you perform any interior, exterior, or whole-structure demolition.

Reason #4: Real Estate Transaction

Are you about to buy a house or investment property? Do you know if the structure was constructed using any asbestos containing materials? Did you know that any asbestos containing materials that will be disturbed during remodeling, renovation, or demolition will have to be abated before the project can proceed?

Don’t get stuck with an unforeseen asbestos abatement after the closing. Instead, consider an asbestos inspection prior to closing to identify asbestos containing materials. This will allow you to factor the cost of abatement into the purchase price.

Reason #5: Simply To Be Informed

Even if you are not planning any remodeling, renovation, or demolition activities, you may still want to have an asbestos inspection to identify any asbestos containing materials in your home or building. This will allow you to create a management plan for how to deal with asbestos containing materials in the future.

How Branch Environmental Can Help

Learn more about our asbestos inspection and abatement services. We are available if you have any questions, so please just contact us for more information!