What to Expect During Asbestos Inspection

What to Expect During Asbestos Inspection

Exposure to asbestos poses enormous health and safety hazards that must be managed or eliminated, as quickly as possible. If your building requires asbestos identification, the inspection process will be conducted by an industrial hygiene consulting firm. Depending on what the inspection uncovers, it could call for the safe removal or in-place management of the asbestos. The inspection firm should also be independent of any abatement contracting companies hired to conduct asbestos removal work.

Before beginning any renovation, demolition, asbestos abatement, or other activity that could impact suspect material, an on-site evaluation must be completed by a certified asbestos inspection professional. This inspection is required by federal rules and regulations set forth by OSHA and the US EPA, as well as many state regulations, and even some local codes. The asbestos inspection firm should be able to demonstrate sufficient experience, licensing, and adequate professional liability insurance coverage for environmental testing services. Without professional liability insurance, the owner will have no recourse for damages due to errors in judgment or professional opinion, all of which are beyond the scope of the contractor’s general liability insurance.

The process of the inspection involves a thorough visual inspection of the affected building space, inventory of suspect material, bulk sample extraction, laboratory analysis, recommendations, and survey reporting. Various regulations stipulate specific numbers of samples be taken from each type of material. One might ask why more than one sample needed from each type. A simplistic analogy is the “chocolate chip cookie theory”: you take a bite of the cookie, but you may or may not actually get a chocolate chip. For asbestos-containing material, this is due to the manufacturing process for the materials as well as limitations of analytical methods. Having a truly qualified, experienced and independent inspection firm is critical.

For many projects, an on-site inspection can take as little as a couple of hours or, for larger buildings, multiple days. The inspector will need full access to every room and space in the building or return site visits may be needed. Following the site work, standard laboratory analysis typically entails 3 to 10 days, with rush or emergency turnaround times available for substantial premium fees.

Without conducting extensive demolition during the inspection, there is always the potential that concealed suspect material is present within the enclosed wall, floor, ceilings, or mechanical spaces. This must be considered when it comes time to plan for abatement or demolition work, should any be required.

An area that often is overlooked when planning for inspections is a repair to sample locations. As part of the inspection, small pieces of material must be extracted from the building. This is typically ½” to 1” square of material per sample. This can result in aesthetic issues at the least to significant building envelope issues in the case of exterior sealants and roofing products.

What types of materials are suspect and require sampling? Asbestos was used in hundreds of different building materials, for example, floor tile, adhesives, ceiling tile, plaster, felt papers, gypsum board and joint compound, grout, caulking and glazing, fireproofing, thermal insulation, siding, roofing, and many other products. Although some types of asbestos were banned in building materials, there are still products that can be purchased today with asbestos present.

A thorough professional report is a must following the inspection. Sometimes removal of the asbestos may be required; however, if the material is in good condition it often is safely managed in place. In the next blog, we will discuss the options for abatement and obtaining proposals from qualified asbestos removal contractors.

Asbestos inspections are detail-oriented and require on-site access, proper sample extraction, and extensive documentation and reporting. To learn more about our services, please contact us at RPF Environmental by calling (888) 293-0619 today.

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