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Asbestos Inspection, Testing, and Safety: Everything You Need to Know

Asbestos Inspection, Testing, and Safety: Everything You Need to Know

In the 20th century, asbestos was one of the most widely used building materials in the U.S. Today, manufacturing companies still use asbestos in the U.S., but it's banned in more than 60 other countries.

So what makes asbestos so dangerous, and how can you protect your property by getting an asbestos inspection?

Here's what you need to know about the professional treating process and keeping your property safe.

What Is Asbestos?

Asbestos is a nonmetallic and inorganic fiber, which makes it a mineral fiber. You can think of it as a similar material to glass or graphite. These are also considered strong mineral fibers.

However, asbestos only develops naturally whereas some forms of glass and graphite can be synthetically produced.

So what does this mean to you?

Because asbestos develops naturally and it has strong structural properties, it was often used in construction. Asbestos is fire resistant, so it was useful in heat insulation. It also has a strong composition, so manufacturers incorporated it with other building products to strengthen them.

With these qualities, asbestos was particularly useful. This is why many older buildings contain asbestos.

Now, the effects of asbestos are clear. It poses many health risks to those exposed.

Safety and Health Risks Asbestos

Asbestos is linked to respiratory diseases including lung cancer, asbestosis, mesothelioma. However, symptoms are typically slow to show up. They can manifest 10 years after exposure.

The more asbestos fibers you're exposed to increases these health risks. Working with asbestos in factories can affect those exposed to a high level of fibers.

Despite these risks, not all forms of asbestos are immediately dangerous. Undisturbed asbestos can be left alone. It becomes a danger when there's abrasion against the material.

The best way to protect yourself is to take early action. Identifying and removing asbestos if it's dangerous can help you decrease exposure and reduce health risks.

To do this, you'll need to get an inspection.

How Does Asbestos Inspection Work?

To conduct a proper inspection, there must be on-site access for a visual evaluation. Note that inspection is a separate phase from the asbestos removal process. The inspection assesses the hazard and how it should be treated.

Cost and Process

The cost of inspection also depends on the size affected area. A larger commercial building may require more extensive inspection. So, an inspection includes a cost per square foot. However, there are other major factors that determine the asbestos inspection cost:

  1. Visual evaluation

  2. Sampling from building materials

  3. Sampling from air quality

  4. Testing

  5. Asbestos reporting

A visual evaluation confirms the presence of asbestos in a property's physical structure.

However, this is just one form of confirmation. It only confirms the presence of asbestos based upon observation. Air sampling is another way to confirm asbestos readings by identifying asbestos fibers in the air.

These samples are then sent to a lab for testing to determine how dangerous the case of asbestos could be. Generally, lab results take less than 10 days to process.

Inspectors will then discuss the results with you and details about the removal process.

What to Look for During an Asbestos Inspection?

Asbestos can be found in various parts of a property. This also depends on whether the property is commercial or residential. Professional inspectors will examine the total property but they'll focus on some of the problem areas.

It all depends on where asbestos was used in the making of the structure. Older structures tend to have more specific problem areas.

Houses built during the 1930s and the 1950s are prone to have asbestos in the insulation and wall patching paint. This is also true for older commercial buildings. Because its fibers are so strong, asbestos reinforces wall materials very well.

A property's structure may contain asbestos in the following places:

  • Roofing and siding

  • Insulation

  • Piping

  • Flooring and ceiling materials

  • Tiling

Professionals also look for asbestos in HVAC systems or household items. Its fire-resistant properties were useful for heating systems like furnaces and stovetops. Asbestos was often used to make artificial ashes.

Older homes with gas fireplaces may have these artificial ashes that contain asbestos. Likewise, oil furnaces are older heating systems and may contain asbestos insulation.

Asbestos Removal Process

An asbestos inspection professionals use standard equipment to handle the hazard. However, the necessary equipment can be included in overhead expenses. These expenses include covering equipment such as HEPA (high-efficiency particulate air) vacuums and protective bodywear.

Generally, removal costs depend on the area damage, overhead equipment costs, and the hourly rates for removal. The specific material that needs replacing can also affect the cost.

For instance, removing asbestos from the roof can accrue more costs than pipe insulation. Similarly, removal for insulation, walls, and tile, all have different rates per square foot.

If the asbestos damage is extensive, properties may need demolition. Milder cases of asbestos may require refurbishment only.

Professional inspectors can survey the condition of the property to determine how thorough the removal process is.

Asbestos Mitigation

Asbestos inspections also include mitigation. After the removal process, inspectors conduct a follow-up inspection. This determines whether the property still contains dangerous signs of asbestos.

Typically this is an air quality inspection that measures any lasting asbestos fibers. If the levels of asbestos are still too high, more extensive removal may be required.

Managing Asbestos in Commercial Spaces

If you manage a non-residential property, an annual asbestos inspection could be mandatory. The Asbestos Hazard Emergency Response Act (AHERA) requires educational facilities to have their buildings inspected.

Beyond inspections, some properties are required to do reporting. Manufacturing companies still use asbestos in production, so reporting is required. All formal documentation goes through the Environmental Protection Agency.

Get Your Asbestos Inspection

Air quality is important for any interior space and asbestos can endanger yours.

If you think your building might be exposed or you need a regular asbestos inspection, please get in touch with us.

We are certified inspectors ready to take care of all your environmental needs. Whether you need to remove and transport hazardous material, or you need professional contracting services, we're here to help.

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