Asbestos is a naturally occurring mineral that has properties of being heat and chemical resistant, corrosion resistant, high tensile strength and more. Asbestos is found in many different forms: chrysotile, amosite, crocidolite, tremolite, anthophyllite, and actinolite. Asbestos has been used in over 3,000 products such as: thermal systems insulation, flooring, building materials, vehicle brakes, pipe gaskets and more. Chrysotile is the most common form found in commercial products, and is the only fibrous form of asbestos in the serpentine group. Asbestos fibers are so small that they are impossible to be seen with the naked eye.
Most commonly, heavy exposure tends to occur in the construction industry, in particular during the removal of asbestos materials due to renovation projects, repairs, or demolition. During the manufacture of asbestos products, workers are also likely to be exposed. Workers doing automotive brake and clutch repair work are exposed as well, since asbestos is still commonly used in brakes due to its heat resistant properties.
Asbestos is well recognized as a health hazard. The use of asbestos started to decline in the 1970’s, and is now highly regulated by both OSHA and the EPA. A buildup of scar-like tissue can occur in the lungs from breathing in asbestos fibers, called asbestosis. This gradually reduces the lungs ability to expand and contract normally. The most common form of health effects of asbestos is lung cancer. Mesothelioma of the pleura is another form of cancer, which specifically involves the membrane-like linings of the lung cavity. Mesothelioma of the peritoneum, involves the abdominal cavity. Pericardial mesothelioma is the most rare form, which occurs in the heart cavity.
Asbestos has been used in a wide range of manufactured goods, mostly in building materials. The EPA (Environmental Protection Agency) has 3 different categories of asbestos building materials: Surfacing materials, Thermal system Insulation (TSI), and Miscellaneous materials.
Most uses of asbestos are not banned. A few are banned under existing regulations. Where asbestos may be found:
- Sprayed or trowled on surfaces: Acoustical plaster, decorative plaster, spray applied fireproofing, textured paint, patching compounds…
- Floor tile and mastic
- Ceiling tile
- Roofing felt, roof mastics, and various roofing materials…
- Pipe insulations, gaskets, pipe wrap, asbestos tape, ducting etc.
- Caulking products, cement pipes (transite pipes), cement wallboards cement shingles…
- Paint, stucco, plaster…
In general, exposure may occur only when an asbestos-containing material (ACM) is disturbed or damaged in a way that allows the asbestos fibers to be released into the air. Asbestos fibers may be released into the air by the disturbance of asbestos-containing material during demolition work, maintenance (building or home), repairs, and renovations or remodeling.
Call a CERTIFIED ASBESTOS CONSULTANT and have them assess the asbestos material in question. Their asbestos assessment report will determine where the asbestos is, the general quantity of it, and most importantly the condition of the asbestos. If the condition of the asbestos containing material is good or intact, then the abatement contractor is able to give an estimate for asbestos abatement. But make sure to have them inspect/test any building materials that will be impacted during renovations as well.
Call a CERTIFIED ASBESTOS CONSULTANT and have them assess the asbestos material in question. Their initial asbestos assessment report will determine where the asbestos is, the general quantity of it, and most importantly the condition of the asbestos. If they find the asbestos containing material to be damaged or significantly damaged, then they may deem it a PROCEDURE 5 which will require a PROCEDURE 5 CLEAN UP PLAN. This plan written by the CAC will determine the extent of contamination and the steps required to decontaminate the area(s).
Yes, most people have been living with asbestos in their home and never realize it. As long as the asbestos containing material is in good/intact condition, you are safe.
If the home is pre 1978 you can assume it has lead paint, or you can hire a certified lead inspector to test the home, usually these inspectors are also certified for asbestos inspections as well. The only real way is to have the materials tested.
No matter how new the house, a home built in 2019 for example is still required to have asbestos testing done on building materials prior to any renovations. South Coast Air Quality Management District regulates asbestos and dust control, they require testing regardless of the age of the building.
Yes, popcorn ceilings are the most commonly known material to contain asbestos. But it can also be in your drywall, plaster, vinyl or linoleum floorings, window putty, the list goes on. Almost all building materials aside from metal, glass or wood is considered a suspect asbestos containing material until it is tested.
First step is to have a Certified Asbestos Consultant perform testing on all materials that will be impacted during renovations. Therefore I highly recommend that you tell the Consultant all of your renovation plans, and let them test all materials required by law. Take note, a minimum of 3 samples are required per building material. For example, for a single family home, an inspector shall take a minimum of 3 samples of drywall in 3 random locations, if 1 of 3 samples is positive, all of the drywall will be considered positive.
Yes but only on air handling systems such as asbestos insulated ducting & white asbestos tape. In most cases you can not tell just by looking at it, you can not tell if drywall or plaster have asbestos for example.
First find out the name of the abatement company that they plan to do the work, and research their reviews & make sure they have a valid C-22 or C-Asb license to do the work. A lot of damaged asbestos containing ducting materials in attics and crawl spaces being deemed a Procedure 5 (asbestos contaminated area) are caused by careless HVAC contractors or their abatement subcontractors that are removing, cutting, and/or abandoning old damaged asbestos pieces. I would really hesitate to use an abatement contractor that is subcontracted by your HVAC contractor. It’s safer to do your own research and bring in your own company that you trust. The cheapest bidder is usually not the way to go when it comes to asbestos abatement.
Lead can be found in all parts of our environment – the air, the soil, the water, including inside our homes. Lead and lead compounds have been used in a wide variety of products found in and around our homes: paint, pipes and plumbing materials, ceramics, solders, batteries, gasoline…
Lead may enter the environment from past and current uses. Industrial sources and contaminated sites are known to emit lead into the environment. While natural levels of lead in soil range between 50 and 400 parts per million, mining, smelting, and refining activities have resulted in substantial increases in lead levels in the environment, especially near mining and smelting sites.
When lead is released into the air from vehicles or industrial sources, it is capable of traveling long distances before settling to the ground, where it usually sticks to soil particles. Lead may find its way from soil, down into ground water, depending on the type of lead compound and also the characteristics of the soil. Federal and state regulatory standards have helped to reduce the amount of lead in: drinking water, the air, soil, food, consumer products, and occupational settings.
Yes, it is very harmful and sometimes lifelong.
NO, any home pre 1978 can be assumed to have lead paint and should never be sanded down unless sufficient testing has been done to prove otherwise.
The XRF gun is useful for getting a reading immediately. However those XRF guns need to be calibrated and are susceptible to false readings. Therefore, having paint chip samples analyzed is the recommended approach for the most accurate results.
The key to preventing the growth of mold is to identify and control water/moisture problems. Mold spores naturally occur everywhere, including your home. Mold is capable of growing on any surface that has enough moisture.
Here are some common sources of moisture:
- Indoor plumbing leaks
- Roof leaks
- Outdoor drainage problems
- Damp basements
- Damp crawl spaces
- Steam coming from a bathroom or kitchen
- Condensation on cool surfaces
- Wet clothes drying inside the home
- A clothes dryer venting indoors
- Bad ventilation of heating and cooking appliances
If you smell it, if you see it, or if you have a water leak there may be mold.
Mold is naturally occurring, a water leak plus humidity is a recipe for mold growth. Most homes have mold contamination hidden within enclosed walls, attics, crawlspaces and just aren’t aware of it.
Mold spores are naturally occurring and always found in the air we breathe. Extensive mold exposure may cause health problems. Breathing in mold can cause allergic and respiratory symptoms for certain people. However, it is hard to quantify how much mold will cause health problems because some people are more sensitive to mold than others. Always discuss your health concerns with your doctor, because the symptoms of mold exposure could possibly be caused by other exposures and illnesses.
People who may be more susceptible to health problems from mold exposure include:
- Current respiratory conditions such as allergies, asthma, or emphysema…
- Compromised immune system such as HIV/AIDS infection, organ transplant patients, or chemotherapy patients…
You can call a mold inspector to have them find the source of the problem and define the scope of work for the remediation contractor. If you are on a budget, we the remediation contractor can create a scope of work together if we know where the mold is located initially. Sometimes the scope can grow once the walls are opened up under containment, but don’t be surprised this is very common.