What Homeowners Need To Know About Asbestos Removal – A Guide For DIYers
Do you need to be concerned about asbestos when DIYing home improvement projects? Asbestos is present in many building materials both for older buildings and newer buildings. What could happen? Could you and your family get sick? Come learn more about when you need an asbestos inspection for your DIY projects and when you don’t.
Where Is Asbestos Found?
You can find asbestos in products such as roofing tars, brakes, floor tiles, joint compound, popcorn ceilings, and more. You can find asbestos in many, many building materials pre-dating the 1990’s. There is no current blanket ban on the manufacture or import of asbestos-containing products.1 That said, many of the products that carry the highest exposure have been regulated or simply discontinued use of the fiber.
The most common suspect materials 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. 4
When should I be concerned about asbestos exposure?
Before beginning any demolition or remodeling project that may disturb asbestos fibers, you need an asbestos inspection.2 Both the EPA and OSHA say that you must physically sample materials that may contain asbestos before they are disturbed. Any building may contain asbestos and federal guidelines do not discriminate based on age.
Before you begin disturbing material, you must inspect any demolition or renovation project for asbestos. Even if your county does not ask for your asbestos survey when you get a building permit, Georgia and Federal laws still apply to your demolition or renovation projects.
Even if you do not require a building permit to complete your project, you should have any suspect materials inspected before you begin removing them. Once materials containing asbestos are disturbed, the fibers can float in the air as dust, enter your lungs and cause damage.
In addition, you may have circumstances that would cause you to want to test your own home or workplace for asbestos outside of planned renovations. We will be happy to discuss a custom asbestos survey plan for you. We can test all of the suspect materials for asbestos and determine if you have a problem or not.
Case Study – DIYer Meets Floor Tiles
As a company, we love to help our customers with problems. Recently, we had a customer call us in a panic. The family had just had a new baby, and decided to renovate their bathroom. Being a good DIYer, he had begun to take up the tiles. She noticed that the tiles were crumbling as he removed them, and immediately told him to stop! She called us in a panic that the possible asbestos in the tiles might affect her family’s lungs.
Crumbling tiles are definitely a suspect material. Asbestos is in many, many buildings built before the 1990’s. Even new homes can have asbestos containing materials. Contrary to popular belief, there is no ban on asbestos containing material in the US, so even new homes may contain asbestos in different materials.1 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 or vinyl floor coverings.
If you do suspect asbestos, there’s no need to panic. Asbestos fibers are dangerous and cause cancer, but only when inhaled. The real issue becomes remodeling and demolition projects like the one our customer was starting. If you are taking stable materials that contain asbestos and begin breaking, crushing, or tearing them out, you need to know if asbestos will be released into the air.
Our customer was right to call us, but there was no need to panic. We recommended that they close the room, and seal the AC vents and doorway to prevent contamination in the rest of the home. She was very relieved that we could come inspect the tiles so quickly.
DIY Asbestos Testing – Why It’s A Bad Idea
You might think you are so good at DIY that you don’t need a professional to test for asbestos. You might see ads for DIY test kits and think, I can do that!
But DIY asbestos testing is not a great idea for multiple reasons. The nature of collecting a sample requires you to disturb the material, thus creating the potential for exposure. It is easy to misidentify potential asbestos containing material. For example, many people will scrape off a sample of popcorn ceiling without realizing the joint compound is also a suspect material. Using a trained inspector will ensure all materials are identified properly keeping you and your family safe.
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. For more information see our post: The Health Effects of Asbestos Exposure.
Our homeowner was justified in her call. We did find asbestos fibers in the floor tiles. However, everyday people live and work buildings surrounded by asbestos. It poses no health hazards unless the fibers are inhaled. So, the next time you want to build or renovate your home, be sure to call us first. We can tell you for sure if you have any asbestos, and if you need an abatement or not.
We’re Here When You Need Us
Call Branch Environmental. We’re experts at asbestos removal with over 25 years of experience. Our inspectors will help you determine the appropriate sampling plan for your project. Our goal is to move your project forward without wasting money, while keeping you safe and in compliance with all applicable regulations. Let us help you navigate asbestos inspection or abatement. Call us or click here to schedule an inspection today!
Branch Environmental – Because nobody should live or work in a building that makes them sick.
For more information please go to:
- Why isn’t asbestos banned in the United States? – AsbestosNation.org associated with the Environmental Working Group
- When Do I Need an Asbestos Inspection? We’ve Got Your Answer! – Branch Environmental
- Asbestos Removal – Branch Environmental
- Asbestos Notification Requirements | Georgia Environmental Protection Division
- What Is Asbestos? – Branch Environmental
- Asbestos In The Home – Consumer Product Safety Commission
- Protect Your Family from Exposures to Asbestos | Asbestos | US EPA
Check out our library of Asbestos blog posts by going to: https://branchenvironmental.com/topic/asbestos-2/
Blog information is NOT intended to provide or replace medical advice. NO information on this site should be used to diagnose, treat, prevent or cure any disease or condition.
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Suggestions for products to use are just that, suggestions. You know yourself and your home best. Please do your own research on any product you use in your home or on your skin, and learn all the facts for yourself. Thank you.