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Few Commercial Buildings Are Asbestos Free

Written By: Robert E. Sheriff, MS, CIH, CSP

Updated: January 30, 2020

The current strength of the commercial real estate market has brought out the fact that few buildings can really be classified as “Asbestos Free.”

The only exception is most buildings constructed in the last 20 years. The use of asbestos has never been completely outlawed for use in building materials! True, it cannot be used in fire retardants or piping insulation, but in other materials; it still is allowed by law. Fortunately, few building material manufacturers, importers, or distributors have, or allowed, asbestos in building materials since the late 1980s. The last building materials to regularly contain asbestos appear to be floor tiles and roofing materials.

FACTS ABOUT ASBESTOSFew Commercial Buildings Are Asbestos Free

If more than 1% by weight of the material is asbestos, then it must be classified, under the EPA’s definition, as “asbestos-containing”. Does this mean that it is a hazard? No! In fact, in most cases, it is not a hazard. This brings out some important facts about asbestos.

FACT NO. 1      The mere presence of asbestos does not constitute a hazard. Only if asbestos-containing materials release dust that could be inhaled or ingested is there truly an asbestos hazard.

FACT NO. 2      Because asbestos is present in a building, it does not mean that it must be removed.

FACT NO. 3      The cost of removal is much less than it was 20 years ago.

FACT NO. 4      The presence of asbestos, in any form, will have a negative impact on the value of the building. In even clearer language – it will reduce the value of that building.

What to Do?

 There are a number of things that can, and should, be done regarding asbestos.


Do you know if you have asbestos in your building?

Where is it?                              How much?

If you don’t know the answers to these questions, a survey should be performed. Make sure you have qualified individuals and companies to perform these activities. Most states require a license for removal companies and certificates for individuals who perform sampling surveys for asbestos materials.

In addition, if your building is located in New York City, there are additional requirements. New York City requires a special form to be submitted with all construction/renovation/demolition permit applications. These forms relate to the presence of asbestos (Form ACP-7), or absence of asbestos (Form ACP-5) related to the “permitted” work to be performed.

Need more information, get in touch with Atlantic Environmental.

Our primary service areas are NJNYNYCPACTDE(Boston) MARIWash DCWIMDMI(Chicago) ILVAIN(Atlanta) GAALNCSCTN(Dallas, Ft Worth) TXOKDCAR. We can service most other areas of the U.S. but with some added travel charges.

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