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What is Asbestos Abatement?

Key takeaways: Asbestos is present in approximately 30 million American households, from textured paint to vinyl flooring to contaminated insulation. If you suspect asbestos is present in your home, it’s best to call an asbestos specialist. First, they’ll determine whether or not asbestos is present (as it’s not visible to the naked eye); from there, they’ll prescribe a plan for either a.) sealing the asbestos and preventing it from becoming airborne; or b.) completely removing the asbestos.  

The Need for Asbestos Abatement

Asbestos was a standard construction material until the late 1980s, both in industrial and domestic realms. If your home was built prior to 1980, it’s more likely to contain asbestos, either in its paint, flooring, insulation, or shingles compared to newer houses. Known for its structural stability, fire retardant qualities, and ease of production and dispersal, asbestos was used in millions of American homes; now, it’s established that asbestos exposure is associated with mesothelioma. Today, the number of homes that are actively inhabited and that contain asbestos hovers around 30 million.

Because asbestos isn’t identifiable to the naked eye, it’s imperative that people do not try to remove the asbestos by themselves. This is the utility of education and abatement: abatement is a sect of construction services that specializes in identifying and removing asbestos. First, you can use context clues to determine whether or not your home might contain asbestos. Think about the date of construction, its surrounding geography, and the appearance of your home fixtures–for example, if your paint is textured, then it’s more likely to contain asbestos than regular paint. Importantly, asbestos is only dangerous when its fibers become airborne–sometimes, abatement specialists will recommend no further action unless the asbestos is disturbed (in cases of renovation or demolition).  

Are There Other Methods for Mitigation Asbestos Exposure in the Home?

Abatement is the total removal and proper disposal of asbestos. Usually, abatement is the last option for mitigating asbestos exposure–it’s costly, relatively dangerous, and requires the utmost care from homeowners and contractors alike. Asbestos abatement specialists will usually opt for encapsulation, or the sealing of asbestos sites with a certain material. Alternatively, they’ll opt for no further action–sometimes, moving (and disturbing) asbestos is more detrimental than beneficial.  

How Does Asbestos Abatement Work?

  1. First, you call an abatement specialist. While wearing personal protective equipment, the specialist will take a sample of the suspected site of asbestos for laboratory testing. (You cannot identify asbestos without looking at the specimen with an electron microscope.)
  2. Once the presence of asbestos has been confirmed, the abatement specialist will decide on a reasonable next step. This could be encapsulation, abatement, or no action.
  3. If the specialist decides that abatement is the best step, then they will enlist EPA-certified contractors to help. The house will be completely covered in plastic sheets (to prevent any lingering fibers from staying in the home) and the vents and airways will be sealed off. The contractors will use a high-efficiency particulate air (HEPA) vacuum to mitigate leftover airborne fibers.
  4. The abated asbestos can be recycled or safely disposed according to EPA and OSHA regulations. The most cost-effective and non-disruptive course of action for asbestos is sealing and not disrupting it. However, it’s important to first consult with a specialist to ensure your and your family’s safety.

    If you or a loved one has been diagnosed with mesothelioma, please call The Halpern Law Firm at 1 (800)-505-6000. We are here to help you navigate the legal process of filing a claim to receive compensation for your cancer diagnosis. We help mesothelioma victims and their families in Pennsylvania.

    Sources:
    https://www.osha.gov/sites/default/files/publications/OSHA3507.pdf

    https://www.cpsc.gov/safety-education/safety-guides/home/asbestos-home

    https://www.pbs.org/newshour/show/decades-after-proof-of-its-carcinogenic-properties-asbestosstill-surrounds-us#:~:text=But%20more%20than%2050%20years,including%20children’s%20to ys%20and%20makeup.

    Written By Carina Filemyr

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