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Understanding Asbestos

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What to know about asbestos

Just because its use is restricted in manufacturing in the U.S. doesn’t mean asbestos has disappeared from the products we use today. Many countries today still allow the use of asbestos in a variety of products, many of which are imported by U.S. retailers and building supply centers.

As a result, there is no “safe date” of construction to indicate a structure is asbestos-free. Even the newest buildings may include asbestos-containing materials. Anyone working or living around asbestos risks health impacts, and anyone managing or contracting work involving asbestos may face legal liabilities if proper permits are not secured prior to work being started. When it comes to asbestos, it’s always better to know in advance what you are working with rather than risk exposure – physical and legal – down the road.

Before starting a demolition or renovation project – including work as simple as repairing water damaged walls and ceilings – an asbestos survey and ORCAA Notification must be completed. Only Certified Asbestos Building Inspectors can do the survey for demolitions.

Asbestos Dangers

Asbestos is a naturally occurring mineral fiber that has been used in more than 3,000 different construction materials and manufactured products. It is commonly found in heating system insulation, decorative spray-on ceiling treatments, vinyl flooring, cement shake siding, and a variety of additional materials.

Despite the ongoing prevalence of asbestos in the things around us, there is no safe level of exposure to airborne asbestos. That’s why medical, environmental health, and regulatory organizations stress the need to protect health by minimizing exposure to airborne asbestos fibers. This is particularly true when asbestos fibers accumulate at higher levels. That can often result from improper disturbances and removals of asbestos-containing materials.

Asbestos Handling

Homeowners may choose to conduct their own sampling of likely asbestos-containing materials to send to a lab for analysis. Use the following guides to help safely secure those samples.