Asbestos abatement is the process through which asbestos containing building materials are evaluated for integrity to determine whether they should be removed or steps should be taken to minimize the health risks associated with asbestos. Asbestos abatement should only be conducted by a specialist, because the proper precautions must be employed in order to avoid compounding asbestos health risks.
Asbestos exposure to tiny airborne asbestos fibers can cause serious health problems in humans, including cancerous mesothelioma. Asbestos was used extensively in building products (as well as other products) made between the 1930s and the 1970s. Asbestos was used in tiles, roofing, pipes, heating ducts, cement and paper products, and much more for its durability and resistance to heat. Several buildings still house asbestos containing materials.
Asbestos Material Integrity
It used to be common in asbestos abatement to remove all asbestos materials as a matter of course. Recently, the EPA and other government agencies have suggested that if an asbestos material's integrity has not been compromised (thereby posing a health risk), it is best to leave it alone, unless there are any compelling reasons to remove it. Again, asbestos is only a health risk if it is tampered with or deteriorating which releases fibers into the air.
There are four types of asbestos abatement. First is complete removal of the asbestos containing product. This can be a very involved and costly procedure. It is essential that a reputable, well trained, and experienced asbestos abatement professional perform asbestos removal in order to avoid causing undue harm from asbestos exposure. The benefit of complete removal is that asbestos will no longer pose any health threats to the occupiers of the building.
Asbestos Encapsulation and Enclosure
Asbestos abatement may involve repairs made to structures that house asbestos products. Encapsulation is the asbestos abatement process through which materials are sealed in order to prevent asbestos health threats. Enclosure involves building a new airtight structure around asbestos containing products. These procedures are less expensive than removal, though they require further maintenance and monitoring for asbestos hazards.
Asbestos products that do not pose a threat to human health can be left alone if no fibers are being released into the air. This is the most inexpensive asbestos abatement option. If the materials are to remain intact, it is important to conduct frequent monitoring and maintenance of the structure in order to ensure the safety of these materials.
Asbestos Abatement Laws & Regulations
Laws regarding asbestos abatement in government and school buildings vary from personal or other property. If the proper precautions in asbestos abatement are not followed serious health consequences can ensue, from minor health complications such as respiratory disorders to more serious issues such as asbestos cancer.
If you have been injured because of an improper asbestos abatement procedure, you may wish to discuss your legal rights and options with an asbestos lawyer familiar with mesothelioma and asbestos law.