- Asbestos has been used frequently in construction and building for its insulating and fire-retardant qualities. Asbestos is a mineral fiber that when damaged releases fibers into the air that can contribute to serious health problems. Generally, asbestos damage comes with demolition projects, repairs and remodeling. If the fibers are inhaled, they can cause lung cancer, asbestosis (scarring within the lungs from the fibers), and mesothelioma (a cancer in the lining of the abdominal cavity or chest). There are many rules in place when it comes to removing asbestos, and often certified asbestos-abatement professionals must do the removal.
- If you have asbestos in your home that is not damaged, you should not do anything to it. Asbestos is only a health concern if it is damaged. That being said, under no circumstances should you scrape, sand, or saw asbestos materials. Do not use power strippers on asbestos floors, place a different kind of flooring over them instead. If asbestos must be removed entirely, call an asbestos-abatement professional.
- When removing asbestos during construction projects, contractors in Washington and other states must get written asbestos reports, may only use vacuums with HEPA (High Efficiency Particulate Air) filters for cleanups, and can use a wet rag for small cleanups. They must use asbestos professionals for any projects that go beyond those minor cleanups.
Asbestos Abatement Professionals
- Asbestos-abatement professionals are trained in the safe removal of hazardous asbestos products. Depending on the size of the job (how many square feet of asbestos must be removed), they may be required to file a report with the local air authorities prior to beginning removal. They also test suspected asbestos materials and determine the potential risks with the materials. If it is safer to repair an asbestos problem than to remove it, they are required to do that instead. Always check asbestos abatement professionals' credentials before hiring--they should be certified through an Environmental Protection Agency-approved training program.