Asbestos Testing

GENERAL INFORMATION ON ASBESTOS

 

What is Asbestos?

Asbestos is the name given to a number of naturally occurring minerals that have been mined for their useful properties such as thermal insulation, chemical and thermal stability, and high tensile strength. The types of asbestos that are regulated are: Chrysotile, Amosite, Crocidolite, Anthophyllite, Tremolite, and Actinolite.
Asbestos deposits can be found throughout the world and are still mined in Australia, Canada, South Africa, and the former Soviet Union.

 

Why is Asbestos a hazard?

Asbestos is made up of microscopic bundles of fibers that may become airborne when distributed. These fibers get into the air and may become inhaled into the lungs, where they may cause significant health problems. Researchers still have not determined a “safe level” of exposure but we know the greater and the longer the exposure, the greater the risk of contracting an asbestos-related disease. Some of these health problems include:

 

  • Asbestosis – a lung disease that cases scarring of the lungs. Eventually, this scarring may become so severe that the lungs cannot function. The latency period (meaning the time it takes for the disease to become developed) is often 25-40 years.
  • Mesothelioma – a cancer of the lining of the lung and chest and/or the lining of the abdominal wall. This form of cancer is peculiar because the only known cause is from asbestos exposure. The latency period for mesothelioma is often 15-50 years.
  • Lung Cancer – can be caused by asbestos. The effects of lung cancer are often greatly increased by cigarette smoking (by about 50%). Cancer of the gastrointestinal tract can also be caused by asbestos. The latency period for cancer is often 15-30 years.

Despite the common misconception, asbestos does not cause headaches, sore muscles or other immediate symptoms. As mentioned above, the effects often go unnoticed for 15-50 years.

 

When is Asbestos a hazard?

Asbestos is not always an immediate hazard. In fact, if asbestos can be maintained in good condition, it is recommended that it be left alone and periodic surveillance performed to monitor its condition. It is only when asbestos-containing materials (ACM) are disturbed or the materials become damaged that it becomes a hazard. When the materials become damaged, the fibers separate and may then become airborne. In the asbestos industry, the term ‘friable’ is used to describe asbestos that can be reduced to dust by hand pressure. ‘Non-friable’ means asbestos that is too hard to be reduced to dust by hand. Machine grinding, sanding and dry-buffing are ways of causing non-friable materials to become friable.

 

Where Can Asbestos Be Found?

Asbestos was commonly used as an acoustic insulator, thermal insulation, fire proofing; and can also be found in flooring materials, adhesives and mastics, insulations, drywall compounds, acoustic ceiling textures and surfacing compounds (wall & ceiling textures). Asbestos fibers are incredibly strong and have properties that make them resistant to heat. Many products are in use today that contain asbestos. Most of these are materials used in heat and acoustic insulation, fireproofing, and roofing and flooring. Common building materials where asbestos may be found:
– Acoustical Plaster – Decorative Plaster – Joint Compounds – Adhesives and Mastics – Ductwork – Flexible Fabric Connections – Floor Tile – Electric Wiring Insulation – Cove Base – Packing Materials (for wall/floor penetrations) – Blown-in Insulation – Electrical Panel Partitions – Pipe Insulation – Boiler Insulation – Roofing Felt – Insulation – Roofing Shingles – Carpet Backings – Spackling Compounds – Pastes/Putties – Spray-Applied Insulation – Ceiling Tiles and Lay-in Panels – Fire Doors – Taping Compounds (thermal) – Sealants – Cement Pipes – Fireproofing Materials – Textured Paints/Coatings – Cement Siding – Flooring Backing – Thermal Paper Products – Cement Wallboard – Heating and Electrical Ducts – Vinyl Floor Tile – Vinyl Sheet Flooring & adhesives – Adhesive/Mastics (floor tile, carpet, ceiling tile, etc.) – Wall Paper Coverings and adhesives – HVAC Duct Insulation – Grouts – Caulking & Glazing – Popcorn Ceilings – ALL drywall materials

 

Wasn’t Asbestos Banned?

EPA has found that there are rather common misunderstandings about its 1989 bans on asbestos-containing materials (ACM) and products or uses. Newspaper and magazine articles, Internet information, even some currently available (but outdated) documents from the EPA and other federal agencies may contain statements about an EPA asbestos ban that are incorrect. In fact, in 1991 the U.S. Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals vacated much of the so-called “Asbestos Ban and Phaseout” rule and remanded it to the EPA. Thus, much of the original 1989 EPA ban on the U.S. manufacturing, importation, processing, or distribution in commerce of many asbestos-containing product categories was set aside and did not take effect. Six asbestos-containing product categories are still subject to the 1989 asbestos ban. However, EPA has no existing bans on most other asbestos-containing products or uses.

 

EPA does NOT track the manufacture, processing, or distribution in commerce of asbestos-containing products. It would be prudent for a consumer or other buyer to inquire as to the presence of asbestos in particular products. Possible sources of that information would include inquiring of the dealer/supplier or manufacturer, refer to the product’s “Material Safety Data Sheet” (MSDS), or consider having the material tested by a qualified laboratory for the presence of asbestos.

 

ABOUT ASBESTOS:

Regulations REQUIRE testing of materials for all remodels, renovations and demolitions. All building/construction materials except bare (raw): concrete, metal, glass, wood, quarry tile, rubber, and fiberglass are considered “suspect” materials. Suspect Asbestos Containing Building Materials (ACBM) must be properly sampled and analyzed prior to any renovation, remodel, construction or demolition activities (no matter the age of the structure) if the trigger level of suspect materials to be disturbed is exceeded. Many Building Departments are requiring Asbestos Testing to be performed prior to obtaining demolition, renovation or remodel permits. Our tests are Certified and meet all requirements of the Federal and State Regulations as well as all building departments!

 

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