Guide to Finding Asbestos, Testing and Removing Asbestos Safely
Asbestos is a deadly substance that can cause countless health complications, making it a dreaded sight for any residential and commercial building owner. Therefore, it is vital to find it and have it sampled and tested. Removing asbestos safely is a critical follow-up if it is found.
If you know or are unsure of asbestos in your building, it is vital to look toward having it removed by a professional asbestos removal company. Never try to remove it yourself, as it can pose a dangerous health risk to you and those that share the space.
Read our guide to learn where to find asbestos, how to test for asbestos and safe asbestos removal.
How To Find Asbestos
Are you suspicious of asbestos in your building? There are several places where asbestos is common in buildings.
These spaces include:
- Popcorn ceiling texture
- Textured paint and wall-patching compounds
- Exterior siding
- Pipe insulation (particularly in older buildings)
- Loose-fill insulation that contains vermiculite
- Vinyl floor tiles, backing, or adhesive
- Door gaskets on coal or oil furnaces
- Heat-resistant materials around wood stoves
Unless the material has an asbestos label on it, there is no way you can accurately determine if it contains asbestos. A sample must be taken and analyzed at an asbestos-accredited laboratory to see if the material contains asbestos.
Hiring an environmental health and safety company is vital to providing accurate sampling and testing, and a safe and effective asbestos removal service. Never hire a general contractor that does not have the proper knowledge and experience and is not accredited with the AHERA/EPA certification to remove asbestos.
Sampling and Testing of Asbestos
There are ways to confirm the presence of asbestos in your building. Below we list do-it-yourself sampling and testing vs. hiring a professional.
DIY Asbestos Testing
A wide array of commercial testing kits are available for purchase to test asbestos levels in the material in your building. However, the reliability of these testing kits is questionable, and you can be putting yourself at a health risk by touching and inhaling the asbestos. In addition, stirring up the substance before you’ve made a plan for its removal is dangerous.
Hiring a Professional for Asbestos Testing
There are three main recognized and professional sample testing methods for asbestos that an accredited asbestos removal company use; Polarized Light Microscopy (PLM), Phase Contrast Microscopy (PCM), and Transmission Electron Microscopy (TEM). Each technique is based upon the asbestos situation.
1. Polarized Light Microscopy (PLM)
Polarized Light Microscopy (PLM) is a standard method used for bulk samples where a small portion of the material suspected of containing asbestos is tested. Typically, it is fast and inexpensive. It is the recommended technique when sampling floor tiles. It distinguishes asbestos fibers from other fibers such as cellulose and fiberglass.
2. Phase Contrast Microscopy (PCM)
Phase Contrast Microscopy (PCM) is used for the asbestos analysis of air samples. Generally, it is fast and inexpensive. Air Sampling uses a particular pump and filter cartridge.
3. Transmission Electron Microscopy (TEM)
Transmission Electron Microscopy (TEM) uses surface dust wipe samples to test both bulk and air samples. It can accurately identify asbestos fibers which PCM and PLM cannot. However, state-of-the-art science and a magnification of at least 25,000X make this method the most expensive.
For greater protection and security in the results of an asbestos test, the most dependable course of action is to contact an Environmental Health and Science (EHS) company. They will provide you with a safe, effective and proper method of testing, sampling and removing based on the material.
The Legality of Asbestos Removal
Depending on the state, there are several legal actions that must be taken when sampling and removing asbestos. Below we list a few actions that you may need to take.
- Get a permit to remove the asbestos.
- Properly dispose of the asbestos.
- Building-specific regulations (for example, the regulations for removing asbestos in a single-family home may be different from a commercial business)
As mentioned earlier, no matter what state you are in, it is crucial to hire a company that has the proper asbestos licensing and certifications.
Effective Ways of Removing Asbestos Safely
The safest, most efficient and most effective way to remove asbestos in your building is to hire a trusted company to execute the asbestos removal.
A professional team will have access to specialized techniques, tools and materials that are needed to eliminate asbestos without transmitting it in the air. The chance of a dangerous mistake, such as touching and inhaling, is eliminated.
Indoor air quality is a serious matter, and proper precautions should be taken at all times. For more information regarding the testing, prevention and removal of asbestos, contact Atlantic Environmental Incorporated today.
We provide asbestos sampling, testing and removal solutions for the states of NJ, NY, PA, CT, DE and GA.