Many are shocked to learn that there has never been a ban on all asbestos in the United States. Others are unaware that asbestos issues inevitably come into the equation whenever building restoration or renovation work needs to be done. Even building contractors often don’t know that agencies at the state and federal level require certified inspectors to assess asbestos-containing building materials prior to any restorations, renovations, or demolitions.
Although asbestos in construction is highly regulated by state and federal law, even local agencies, the fact remains that asbestos is much more prevalent than most would believe, and there is no official cut-off date for using certain building material containing asbestos. To be forewarned is to be forearmed, so in this upcoming series of blogs we will explain typical steps for dealing with asbestos in construction.
What Is Asbestos?
Asbestos is a carcinogen. Epidemiological studies have proven a definite correlation between asbestos inhalation and mesothelioma cancer, which is almost always fatal within a few short years. For this reason, it is no longer used in the vast majority of building materials or in construction work, because of the harm it can cause to workers and individuals who will later occupy the building. Asbestos used to be valued as a construction material, and was commonly found in materials that make flooring, caulking, siding, pipes, cement, roofing, insulations, ceiling tiles, roofing, among many other uses. The durable, fibrous building material owed its popularity to the fact that it is immune to corrosion or heat, it adds strength, and it has great insulation value.
One good rule of thumb: If your building material isn’t made of only wood, metal, or rubber, it might contain asbestos. If you are impacting or disturbing suspect building materials or asbestos that is already determined to be present, you must prepare remediation specifications for asbestos removal. A licensed contractor will be required for proper removal, transportation and disposal of asbestos-containing building materials at an approved disposal site; along with work permits, independent industrial hygiene oversight testing and monitoring, and various recordkeeping requirements.