Why would you need Environmental Management Specialists, Inc. for Asbestos?

If you are the owner, owner's agent or a tenant of a building built prior to 1981, EPA and OSHA have regulations that will have to be met prior to any renovation or demolition activities you are planning for the building in question.  You are also required to notify your employees and guests that there are building materials that are presumed to be asbestos containing (ACM).

When should you do something about the Asbestos in your building?

If the asbestos containing materials (ACM) in your building are in good condition, you don't have to remove them unless you expect the materials to be disturbed.  If the ACM is not in good condition, becomes damaged or if construction activities could in any way disturb ACM, you will need to contact a licensed and accredited asbestos building inspector, project designer, and/or abatement contractor to test/remove these ACM's.

What type of Building Materials contain Asbestos?

Some of the most common asbestos containing materials (ACM's) are:
Cement PipesPacking Materials (wall/floor penetrations)Electrical Cloth
Cement WallboardHigh Temperature GasketsElectric Wiring Insulation
Cement SidingLaboratory Hoods/Table TopsChaulkboards
Asphalt Floor TileLaboratory GlovesRoofing Shingles
Vinyl Floor TileFire BlanketsRoofing Felt
Vinyl Sheet FlooringFire CurtainsBase Flashing
Flooring BackingElevator Equipment PanelsThermal Paper Products
Construction Mastics (floor tile, carpet, ceiling tile)Elevator Brake ShoesFire Doors
Accoustical PlasterHVAC Duct InsulationCaulking/Putties
Decorative PlasterBoiler InsulationAdhesives
Textured Paints/CoatingsBreaching InsulationWallboard/Transite
Ceiling Tiles and Lay-in PanelsDuctwork Flexible Fabric ConnectionsJoint Compounds
Spray-Applied InsulationCooling TowersVinyl Wall Coverings
Blown-in InsulationPipe Insulation (air-cell, block, layered paper)Spackling Compounds
Fireproofing MaterialsHeating and Electrical DuctsSealants
Taping Compounds (thermal)Electrical Partition Panels


What should be done about Asbestos in your Home/Business?

If you think asbestos may be in your home, don't panic.  Usually the best thing is to leave asbestos material that is in good condition alone.  Generally, material in good condition will not release asbestos fibers.  Check material regularly if you suspect it may contain asbestos.  Don't touch it, but look for signs of wear or damage such as tears, abrasions, or water damage.  Damaged material may release asbestos fibers.  This is particularly true if you often disturb it by hitting, rubbing, or handling it, or if it is exposed to extreme vibration or air flow.  Sometimes the best way to deal with slightly damaged material is to limit access to the area and not touch or disturb it.  Discard damaged or worn asbestos gloves, stove-top pads, or ironing board covers.  Check with local health, environmental, or other appropriate officials to find out proper handling and disposal procedures.  If asbestos material is more than slightly damaged, or if you are going to make changes in your home that might disturb it, repair or removal by a professional is needed.  Before you have your commercial building or house demolished or remodeled, find out whether asbestos materials are present by having an asbestos inspection performed.

What is Asbestos?

Asbestos is the name given to a number of naturally occurring fibrous silicate minerals mined for their useful properties such as thermal insulation, chemical and thermal stability, and high tensile strength.  Also, it has the ability to be woven, and has resistance to heat and most chemicals.  Because of these properties, asbestos fibers have been used in a wide range of manufactured goods, including roofing shingles, ceiling and floor tiles, paper and cement products, textiles, coatings, acoustic insulator, thermal system insulation, fire proofing and friction products such as automobile clutch, brake and transmission parts.  The current federal definition of asbestos is the asbestiform varieties of: chrysotile (serpentine); crocidolite (riebeckite); amosite (cummingtonite/grunerite); anthophyllite; tremolite; and actinolite.  Many products in use today contain asbestos.

What are the Health Effects of Asbestos Exposure?

Exposure to airborne friable asbestos may result in a potential health risk because persons breathing the air may breathe in asbestos fibers.  Continued exposure can increase the amount of fibers that remain in the lung.  Fibers embedded in lung tissue over time may cause serious lung diseases including: asbestosis, lung cancer, or mesothelioma.  The risk of lung cancer and mesothelioma increases with the number of fibers inhaled.  The risk of lung cancer from inhaling asbestos fibers is also greater if you smoke.  Smoking increases the risk of developing illness from asbestos exposure.  People who get asbestosis have usually been exposed to high levels of asbestos for a long time.  The symptoms of these diseases do not usually appear until about 20 to 30 years after the first exposure to asbestos.  Most people exposed to small amounts of asbestos, as we all are in our daily lives, do not develop these health problems.  However, if disturbed, asbestos material may release asbestos fibers, which can be inhaled into the lungs.  The fibers can remain there for a long time, increasing the risk of disease.  Asbestos material that would crumble easily if handled, or that has been sawed, scraped, or sanded into a powder, is more likely to create a health hazard.  If you are concerned about possible exposure, consult a physician who specializes in lung diseases (pulmonologist). 
Three of the major health effects associated with asbestos exposure include:  
Asbestosis – Asbestosis is a serious, progressive, long-term non-cancer disease of the lungs.  It is caused by inhaling asbestos fibers that irritate lung tissues and cause the tissues to scar.  The scarring makes it hard for oxygen to get into the blood. Symptoms of asbestosis include shortness of breath and a dry, crackling sound in the lungs while inhaling.  There is no effective treatment for asbestosis.
Lung Cancer – Lung cancer causes the largest number of deaths related to asbestos exposure.  People who work in the mining, milling, manufacturing of asbestos, and those who use asbestos and its products are more likely to develop lung cancer than the general population.  The most common symptoms of lung cancer are coughing and a change in breathing.  Other symptoms include shortness of breath, persistent chest pains, hoarseness, and anemia.
Mesothelioma – Mesothelioma is a rare form of cancer that is found in the thin lining (membrane) of the lung, chest, abdomen, and heart and almost all cases are linked to exposure to asbestos.  This disease may not show up until many years after asbestos exposure.  This is why great efforts are being made to prevent school children from being exposed.


How do I manage an Asbestos problem?

If the asbestos material is in good shape and will not be disturbed, do nothing!  If it is a problem, there are two types of corrections: repair and removal.  Repair usually involves either sealing or covering asbestos material.   
Sealing (encapsulation) involves treating the material with a sealant that either binds the asbestos fibers together or coats the material so fibers are not released. Pipe, furnace and boiler insulation can sometimes be repaired this way. This should be done only by a professional trained to handle asbestos safely.  
Covering (enclosure) involves placing something over or around the material that contains asbestos to prevent release of fibers. Exposed insulated piping may be covered with a protective wrap or jacket.
With any type of repair, the asbestos remains in place.  Repair is usually cheaper than removal, but it may make later removal of asbestos, if necessary, more difficult and costly.  Repairs can either be major or minor.


How do I identify Materials that contain Asbestos?

You can't tell whether a material contains asbestos simply by looking at it, unless it is labeled.  If in doubt, treat the material as if it contains asbestos or have it sampled and analyzed by a qualified professional like Environmental Management Specialists, Inc.  A professional should take samples for analysis, since a professional knows what to look for, and because there may be an increased health risk if fibers are released.  In fact, if done incorrectly, sampling can be more hazardous than leaving the material alone.  Taking samples yourself is not recommended.  Material that is in good condition and will not be disturbed (by remodeling, for example) should be left alone.  Only material that is damaged or will be disturbed should be sampled.

Asbestos Professionals: Who are they and What can they do?

Asbestos professionals are trained in handling asbestos material.  The type of professional will depend on the type of product and what needs to be done to correct the problem.  You may hire a general asbestos contractor or, in some cases, a professional trained to handle specific products containing asbestos.  Asbestos professionals can conduct home/buisness inspections, take samples of suspected material, assess its condition, and advise about what corrections are needed and who is qualified to make these corrections.  Once again, material in good condition need not be sampled unless it is likely to be disturbed.  Professional correction or abatement contractors repair or remove asbestos materials.