Evolving Asbestos Standards

The concern regarding asbestos and health risk evolved quickly in the early 1980’s and resulted in a blizzard of standards and regulations. The very first federal standard that applied to building owners and operators was proposed by EPA in 1980 and promulgated in 1982. The standard is known as 40 CFR 763, Friable Asbestos-Containing Materials in Schools, and specifically targets schools as the name implies. The standard required public and private educational authorities (K-12) to inspect their buildings for friable ACM, sample the buildings to determine asbestos content, and assess the potential hazard. [Read more…]

Asbestos Information and Awareness

Asbestos is a ubiquitous mineral product that has been widely used for more than one hundred years. It has been used in numerous building products, including thermal insulation (pipes, boilers, water tanks), fireproofing, acoustical plasters, and an enormous number of miscellaneous products, including floor tiles, ceiling tiles, textiles such as gloves and blankets, vehicle brake and clutch linings, and various roofing and siding materials. It wide use was due to its superior insulating characteristics, fire resistance, chemical resistance, tensile strength, and abundance. [Read more…]

Asbestos Hazard Recognition

While asbestos products were widely used in building construction since the early 1900’s, the recognition of health hazard evolved slowly. The occupational hazard of asbestos was identified in the 1930’s in Great Britain and was recognized in the medical literature in the United States by World War II. The occupational disease asbestosis was the first asbestos disease recognized in the medical literature and was cited in the Worker’s Compensation laws in many states in the US. It took much longer to recognize the cancer mesothelioma, since it tends to have a long latency period. As stated in the National Cancer Institute paper, “Also, very high exposures, which were likely to have occurred in the 1930’s and 1940’s, may have resulted in lung cancer or asbestosis before mesothelioma could develop.” [Read more…]

Asbestos Removal & Response

As previously discussed, one of the most common indoor contaminants is asbestos, in both commercial and residential buildings. Asbestos was a very common building component from about 1920 to 1978. It is not unusual to still find friable products like pipe insulation or non-friable products like vinyl asbestos floor tiles in both residential and commercial buildings from this era. I have VAT in several rooms in my own home. [Read more…]

Asbestos Information & Background

One of the most common requests we receive is “Do you conduct air quality testing?” The answer of course is yes, followed by the question, “Which contaminants are you concerned about?” If the answer is all of them, then we know we hit the jackpot and can start planning for retirement. The majority of the time, however, the answer is mold and we are able to proceed with our mold assessment and testing process as described in earlier correspondence.

Sometimes, however, the answer is a specific contaminant that is not mold. One of the most common contaminants of concern is asbestos and today I will discuss the general concepts. Asbestos was a very common building component from about 1920 to 1978, at which time EPA and the marketplace largely eliminated its use. If you are in a building constructed after 1980 you should be home free. If it is earlier construction then there may be some concerns. [Read more…]