Asbestos is the name given to a number of naturally occurring fibrous minerals with high tensile strength, the ability to be woven, and resistance to heat and most chemicals. Various products and materials are made, or were made, using asbestos. Those products and materials are known as ACM (Asbestos Containing Materials) which include, but are not limited to, Cement pipes, HVAC Duct insulation, asphalt floor tile, vinyl sheet flooring, pipe insulation, acoustical plaster joint compounds, textured paints, ceiling tiles, blown-in insulation, and electrical wiring insulation. Exposure to asbestos may result in potential health risk due to inhalation. Fibers embedded in lung tissue over time may cause serious lung diseases such as asbestosis, lung cancer, or mesothelioma.
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) are responsible for regulating environmental exposure and protecting workers from asbestos exposure. OSHA is responsible for the health and safety of the workers who may be exposed to asbestos in the work place, or in connection with their jobs. EPA is responsible for developing and enforcing regulations necessary to protect the general public from exposure to airborne contaminants that are known to be hazardous to human health. The EPA has presented five major facts on asbestos which include:
- Although asbestos is hazardous, human risk of asbestos disease depends upon exposure.
- Prevailing asbestos levels in buildings-(the levels school children and you and I face as building occupants) seem to be very low, based upon available data. Accordingly, the health risk we face as building occupants also appears to be very low.
- Removal is often not a school district’s or other building owner’s best course of action to reduce asbestos exposure. In fact, an improper removal can create a dangerous situation where none previously existed.
- EPA only requires asbestos removal in order to prevent significant public exposure to asbestos, such as during building renovation or demolition.
- EPA does recommend in-place management whenever asbestos is discovered. Instead of removal, a conscientious in-place management program will usually control fiber releases, particularly when the materials are not significantly damaged and are not likely to be disturbed.
Although many ACM products were not used after 1994, some products being manufactured still contain small amounts of asbestos.
Environmental Analytics performs EPA & OSHA approved testing and analysis of asbestos for residential and commercial applications. Contact our office for more information on asbestos and asbestos-related services.