Showing posts with label asbestos. Show all posts
Showing posts with label asbestos. Show all posts

Sunday, October 25, 2020

Asbestos pipe removed and disposed of in Palmdale CA

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Sunday, February 9, 2020

Premier Asbestos Removal company in Los Angeles and Santa Fe Springs

Serving all of Los Angeles and Orange County with cost effective asbestos removal and transportation. EPA approved, legal and responsible disposal of hazardous waste. Team is DOSH approved to work with hazardous materials in the home and commercial space.

Quick réponse and complete daily updates to customers.

Monday, August 12, 2019

How crews are cleaning up after the fire in Paradise,

Right before sunrise on the morning of Nov. 8, Pacific Gas & Electric (PG&E) reported that one of its transmission lines off Camp Fire Road in Butte County had suffered an outage. Fifteen minutes later, a PG&E employee at the scene first spotted what would become the deadliest wildfire in California history.
Investigators suspect that a downed high-voltage power line and damaged equipment started the fire. Spurred on by whipping wind gusts, the fire quickly overtook the parched brush in the surrounding foothills of the Sierra Nevada, spreading the blaze to the town of Paradise, California, population 27,000, and into nearby communities at the rate of a football field per second.
Before the blaze was contained 17 days later, 85 people had been killed, more than 150,000 acres had been burned and close to 19,000 buildings were destroyed. The total cost of the fire damage was estimated at $16.5 billion.

Answering the call

Shortly after the fires were contained, a number of agencies joined to begin what they called an “unprecedented wildfire cleanup effort” that will span approximately 14,700 properties and cost an estimated $3 billion. The California Department of Resources Recycling and Recovery (CalRecycle); Butte, Los Angeles and Ventura Counties; the California Department of Toxic Substances Control (DTSC); the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA); the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA); and other federal, state and local partners will work together under the leadership of the California Governor’s Office of Emergency Services (CalOES) to carry out the state-managed debris removal.
The agencies divided the cleanup effort into two phases: removal of household hazardous waste and removal of other fire-related debris.
The first phase of the cleanup, which began Dec. 3 and is estimated to last a total of four to six months, involves crews managed by DTSC and the EPA. These crews are specifically focused on sorting through on-site rubble and ash to remove remnants of household hazardous waste, including paints, cleaners, solvents, oils, batteries, pesticides, compressed cylinders and tanks and easily identifiable asbestos.
According to CalOES Director Mark Ghilarducci, expediency is paramount in the initial stages of the cleanup in helping facilitate an orderly and efficient process.
“One of most important things we can do in an event like this, outside of making sure people’s needs are met, is beginning that process of removing the debris,” Ghilarducci said in a conference call Dec. 11. “The sooner we can get it addressed and out of the way, the sooner the long-term recovery and building can begin.”
Once household hazardous waste is removed from a property, the second phase of the cleanup begins.
Cleanup crews started the second phase—which involves site assessment and documentation, debris removal, erosion control measures and final inspection—Jan. 7. CalRecycle oversaw the appointment of general contractors and managing operations during this process.
The agency selected ECC Constructors LLC, Burlingame, California; SPSG Partners JV, a joint venture including Dublin, California-based DeSilva Gates Construction and Pacific States Environmental; and Sarasota, Florida-based Ceres Environmental Services Inc., doing business as Environmental & Demolition Services Group, as the primary contractors for the cleanup after a bid process that culminated Jan. 22.
ECC Constructors LLC and SPSG Partners JV will work within the city limits of the town of Paradise. Each agreement is for approximately 6,350 parcels and an estimated cost of $750 million each. Environmental & Demolition Services Group’s agreement to perform work outside the town of Paradise is for approximately 2,000 parcels and an estimated cost of $200 million.
According to CalRecycle Public Information Officer Lance Klug, each primary contractor will employ a number of subcontractors to help facilitate the cleanup.
“For the Camp Fire cleanup, we estimate each of the three prime contractors will begin with five to 10 crews each,” Klug says. “More crews will then be phased in based on logistical considerations. We estimate there may be up to 150 crews consisting of about five persons each performing debris removal when all is said and done.”
Photos provided by the Department of Toxic Substances Control

Documenting the destruction

Before crews begin removing debris during the second phase of the cleanup, they first measure and record the foundation, structures, debris, utility infrastructure and property-specific hazards on site.
Photographs are taken at each site and compiled with written records. These records get checked and verified by a representative from CalRecycle, CalOES or an affiliated worker from the incident management team.
Crews then obtain and evaluate soil samples to establish cleanup goals for the project while identifying and removing any asbestos-containing materials that might remain.
CalRecycle uses independent, California-certified labs for its testing and analysis.
“What’s happening right now with the first part of phase two is we’re conducting background soil samples to establish a baseline. So, we take a sample from a non-burned portion of soil in the community, and this gives us a baseline where we want to get the soil properties back to. Once the debris removal occurs, we want to make sure that the soil is restored to pre-fire conditions,” Klug says. “Once wildfire debris and contaminated soil are removed from the parcel, samples are collected and then sent off to independent labs. These results are directly reviewed, analyzed and ultimately approved by CalRecycle. So, if there’s a soil sample that comes back and it doesn’t meet cleanup goals, then CalRecycle orders re-scraping.”
Photos provided by the Department of Toxic Substances Control

Managing the cleanup

After initial site assessment and documentation, crews turn their attention to the debris removal process, where they’ll collect and remove all burnt debris, foundations, dangerous trees and contaminated soil.
Klug says that while at least 3 to 6 inches of soil may be removed in a typical plot’s clearing, crews do everything possible to ensure that they aren’t over-striping the land. Daily monitoring of tonnage reports and grid testing helps the agency maintain appropriate volumes during the cleanup, Klug says. The agency also focuses on other erosion control measures to control sediment runoff and promote future vegetation growth.
For larger debris, Klug says special oversight is being conducted to ensure cleanup operations go according to plan.
“We have different companies assigned to different tasks,” Klug says. “Debris management is handled by one contractor and the actual debris removal is tasked to another contractor. This provides an additional layer of checks and balances in the field. So, contractors are not only held accountable by us, they check each other’s work as they go.”
Klug notes that every parcel of debris is appropriately categorized before it leaves the site for more comprehensive documentation.
“Debris is removed and documented specifically based on material type—debris/ash, contaminated soil, concrete or metal. There’s a digital tracking log that gets generated at the site with the debris that is verified at the disposal facility, and those tonnage reports are sent to our incident management team and checked daily by parcel to ensure there is reasonable accuracy of the material that has been removed and the cost associated with that is appropriate as well,” Klug says. “We’re tracking every single parcel by material type and by tonnage, so for a cleanup of this scope, organization is key.”
Klug says that the nature of the material being handled at the Camp Fire cleanup puts an added emphasis on safety. The agency conducts daily oversight to help make sure operations are safe and compliant with industry standards.
“We operate under some overarching principles, and at the top of the list is safety—that includes the safety of our crews, the safety of the community and the safety of the environment,” Klug says. “To ensure this safety, we take a number of oversight measures and conduct daily meetings where safety is a top priority. There’s an expectation about crews wearing the proper safety equipment, and there are decontamination zones at each site where contractors suit up and suit off. This is to help prevent any ash from getting into their trucks and going with them back home. We also have truck inspections that are conducted in accordance with Department of Transportation standards. These are expected at the outset, and then every 30 days those are checked on again.”
Photos provided by the Department of Toxic Substances Control

An ally in the community

Klug says that working with those in the community is part and parcel of the cleanup effort. He notes that CalRecycle’s presence is a fixture at community meetings as the agency aims to listen to—and address—the needs and concerns of area residents.
Participation in the debris removal program requires homeowners interested in CalRecycle’s services to return a right of entry form before work begins. Klug says that crews go out of their way to help accommodate any requests residents might have during the cleanup.
“Once CalRecycle has those right of entry forms in hand, that’s when we start formulating our operations plans,” Klug says. “On that right of entry form, we encourage people to make any notes or requests they have. If there’s maybe a wedding ring or something special that someone is missing that they knew was in a certain part of the house, our crews are not only willing to look for that, they’re happy to look for that. That’s the kind of attention and respect we try to have for homeowners.”
One of the overarching goals of CalRecycle’s community engagement strategy is to limit disruption as much as possible. That’s why the agency works to maintain a minimal footprint during operations.
“We set up air monitoring stations around the community. The air is tested before debris removal starts and monitored during the debris removal to make sure we’re not having an impact on the local community,” Klug says. “Because there are 14,000 sites to be tended to, not all are going to be cleaned up immediately, so you have to maintain those. It is important to keep the ash and debris watered as a way to keep dust from flying around. Street sweeping is another aspect that we bring to the community because these areas are essentially going to be a cleanup zone for the next year, so we want to pay special attention to maintaining the community. Finally, when we haul away debris, all of it is burrito-wrapped within plastic and placed in the back of dump trucks to prevent any debris from flying out and further polluting the area.”
Klug says that although every project is different, CalRecycle has leveraged its years of debris removal experience to help streamline the Camp Fire cleanup.
“CalRecycle has managed more than 20 debris removal operations since 2007, and, of course, we learn new things and improve our oversight processes along the way,” he says. “And because of this, these communities know and respect our work and respect the process because they know we respect them and their community. So that’s why our oversight processes are meticulous, and that results in fewer problems and complaints along the way.
Managing a $3 billion cleanup project requires careful planning and execution, but according to Klug, helping make the community whole again is CalRecycle’s biggest responsibility.
“These are families who are just trying to put their lives back together,” Klug says. “We feel that responsibility and we’re proud of the work that we do to help put these communities in a position to rebuild—all the time remembering that these fellow Californians have been through so much. Of course you want to get the cleanup done as quickly and efficiently as possible, but you’ve got to set expectations where this is going to be a long process, and CalRecycle is in it for the long haul. We’re going to be there until that last site is approved and returned to the homeowner.”

Sunday, June 25, 2017

Myths and Facts about Asbestos-Cement

Is this what we call “Transite?”
Not entirely. Transite is a trade name for Johns-Manville asbestos-cement products made to specific formulations. For example, a line of Transite electrical ducts had 15 to 25% chrysotile asbestos, 45 to 55% Portland cement and 25 to 35% silica flour. I have seen a lot of asbestos-cement products in the US without the name “Transite,” not surprising since CertainTeed, National Gypsum, GAF Corporation, Celotex, Nicolet and others also produced it. I have never seen the name “Transite” used in connection with asbestos-cement products outside the US, where major producers included Eternit, Saint Gobain and James Hardie.

Read More..........

My House Contains Asbestos: Now What?

Many older houses incorporate construction materials that contain asbestos. Usually its presence is uncovered during closing, when the house undergoes numerous inspections. Asbestos removal then becomes part of purchase negotiations. For home buyers who skip inspection to keep upfront costs low, asbestos discovery can be quite scary. After all, they’ve just learned that their beautiful slice of American history is contaminated.
Asbestos, which occurs naturally, is a silicate-based mineral that has fire-resistant properties; there are six different types of asbestos. Until the 1970s, asbestos fibers were woven into or used in the manufacture of floor tiles, fire-retardant clothing, fire blankets, roof shingles, pipe insulation, and many car parts, just to name a few items. Federal regulation sharply curtailed domestic use of asbestos after it was designated a carcinogen. The material’s microscopic fibers enter the body through inhalation and cause the deadly disease mesothelioma.
Asbestos is typically uncovered in the basements and attics of older homes. You would probably not recognize it, however, by visual inspection alone. But if your house was built before the 1970s, the chances are likely that the vintage floor tile you want to replace or that weird-looking pink insulation around your furnace contains asbestos.
Just because you have asbestos in your home doesn’t mean you are being exposed to it. If the asbestos-containing material is intact, untouched, and unreachable, it is unlikely to cause harm to you or your family. Leave it alone and it will leave you alone. If the material is cracked or crumbling, but still untouched and unreachable, it can be sealed off—encapsulated—and left alone. If, however, you discover asbestos during renovation, it’s time to stop work and immediately seek professional help.
When you uncover asbestos that you can’t avoid or encapsulate—perhaps it’s in a wall you want to knock through or in those tiles you’d like to pull up—find a certified asbestos consultant in your area and request a home evaluation. The cost of removal, which is in the thousands, is determined by the amount of asbestos that has to be removed. Asbestos abatement is not cheap and may alter your renovation plans. Homeowner’s insurance policies typically do not cover removal. Always check with your state agencies to see if they provide any sort of funding—grants or loans—to assist with asbestos removal.
Asbestos Removal 2
Professional asbestos removal involves sealing off the affected area, encapsulating the asbestos-contaminated material, and then safely removing it from the site. To ensure that there is no conflict of interest, be sure to use one asbestos professional to evaluate your home and a different asbestos abatement firm to do the actual work. Always ask for proof of certification and get copies of all the paperwork that documents that your asbestos was removed in accordance with state and federal procedures. Photos of how materials were handled and removed should also be included in documentation.
Many people are convinced they can remove asbestos from their home safely without calling in the experts. This is not recommended and could endanger your health and your life. There’s more to removal than spray bottles and dust masks. If you want to become certified in asbestos removal, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) provides a list of approved state contacts to get you started. Asbestos education is the best way for DIY fans to keep their renovation projects safe and their homes healthy.

Saturday, May 16, 2015

In Nevada, a Controversy in the Wind...Asbestos

Brenda Buck, left, and Rodney Metcalf taking samples of rocks near Las Vegas. CreditIsaac Brekken for The New York Times 
For the past few years, the geologists Brenda Buck and Rodney Metcalf have combed the wild terrain of southern Nevada, analyzing its stony dunes and rocky outcroppings — and to their dismay, tallying mounting evidence of a landscape filled with asbestos.
Asbestos occurs naturally in many parts of the country, mostly in the West but also along some mountain ranges in the East. But in Nevada, the scientists found, natural erosion and commercial development were sending the fibers into the wind.
Worried about the possible health risks, Dr. Buck and Dr. Metcalf, professors of geoscience at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas, reached out to experts in asbestos-related diseases. With data from Nevada’s cancer registry, an epidemiologist prepared a preliminary report that outlined what she felt was a troubling pattern of mesothelioma — a cancer often related to asbestos exposure — among residents of the affected areas.
But if the scientists expected to be applauded by state officials for their initiative, they were mistaken.
Brenda Buck and Rodney Metcalf found asbestos on rocks and soil near Las Vegas.CreditIsaac Brekken for The New York Times 
Upon learning of the report, the Nevada Department of Health forced the epidemiologist, Francine Baumann of the University of Hawaii, to withdraw a presentation of the findings at a scientific conference and revoked her access to the state cancer registry. Dr. Metcalf and Dr. Buck offered to meet with state officials but say they were rebuffed.
In the years since, “no one from the health department has ever contacted us to ask for any information about the minerals,” Dr. Metcalf said.
So began one of the country’s more unsettling public health controversies. Over the past several years, the researchers say, they have been vilified for making legitimate scientific inquiries that may have public health consequences. Officials at the state health department counter that the researchers are simply wrong about the asbestos hazard and are promulgating an alarmist hypothesis.
The department’s own analysis has turned up no particular asbestos risks to residents, the officials say, pointing out that the incidence of mesothelioma in the state is well within the national average.
“Asbestos was there for hundreds, if not thousands, of years, and that has not translated into negative health effects,” said Dr. Ihsan Azzam, the state epidemiologist.
Naturally occurring asbestos deposits are not uncommon, and in past decades, particularly rich veins were mined for commercial use. It proved to be a dangerous occupation: Asbestos fibers travel easily through the air and are easily inhaled, scientists later found, embedding themselves in the lungs.
Once there, even in modest amounts, the fibers set off a cascade of inflammatory effects that can lead decades later to lung cancer, mesothelioma and other respiratory ailments. One study conducted a few years ago found that one-fifth of the residents of Libby, Mont., the site of a large vermiculite mining operation, sustained asbestos-related lung diseases. Many never worked in the mines.
The Environmental Protection Agency designated the area a Superfund site in 2002 and, with the Department of Health and Human Services, declared a public health emergency there in 2009.
The growing body of research into asbestos exposure inspired Dr. Buck and Dr. Metcalf to take a closer look at their home state. In October 2013, they published a study finding that natural asbestos-bearing mineral deposits were abundant in the region, from the southern shore of Lake Mead to the edges of the McCullough Range.
In a follow-up analysis, Dr. Metcalf and Dr. Buck reported that asbestos fibers around Boulder City and the eastern part of Henderson and Las Vegas were similar in shape and size to those sickening people in Libby. And last month, the two geologists published a paper showing that a continuous swath of natural asbestos runs from Nevada into neighboring Arizona.
The findings have already had consequences. The Nevada Department of Transportation delayed construction of a $490 million highway project, called the Boulder City Bypass, after learning that it would run through an area that the scientists had found to be rich in asbestos.
After seven months, an analysis concluded that while asbestos was ubiquitous in the area (found in all 150 soil samples), the levels were low enough for workers to proceed safely with the construction. Still, the state D.O.T. plans to proceed with protective measures, such as watering down the roadbed and continual air monitoring.
Plans for a federal interstate highway connecting Las Vegas and Phoenix may also be affected. The suggested route would cut through the asbestos deposits in Arizona recently identified by Dr. Metcalf and Dr. Buck. No one has suggested that naturally occurring asbestos is causing an epidemic of cancer in southern Nevada. The question is whether exposure to the mineral may be contributing in unrecognized, perhaps preventable ways.
Brenda Buck and Rodney Metcalf  in Henderson, Nev. CreditIsaac Brekken for The New York Times 
In her original review of data from the state cancer registry, Dr. Baumann says she found an unusual number of mesothelioma cases in younger residents and in women in the affected areas.
The disease usually occurs in older men, after years of on-the-job exposure. Dr. Baumann thought the pattern she observed suggested an environmental exposure to asbestos at an early age. She submitted an abstract describing the research to the Geological Society of America and was to present it at the group’s national meeting in 2012.
But when the Nevada health department was alerted to the presentation, the state health officer, Dr. Tracey Green, invoked a clause in an agreement signed by Dr. Baumann, which allowed the health department to approve any scientific publication resulting from access granted to the state cancer registry. In a letter, Dr. Green demanded that the abstract be taken off the website, and the presentation was canceled. “If you choose not to retract the abstract or to decide to publish other manuscripts based on the statistics that you were provided, you may incur legal liabilities for your conduct,” Dr. Green wrote.
In an interview, Dr. Green acknowledged that it was the only time as the state health officer that she had ever invoked the department’s right to preapprove scientific research. She said it was necessary because Dr. Baumann was so persistent in wanting to publish a misguided study.
“The data has been evaluated and re-evaluated,” Dr. Green said. “There is no pattern of undue risk.”
She and her colleagues argue that Dr. Baumann gave too much weight to a few anomalous cancer cases, making her findings suspect. “You just don’t scare the hell out of people this way,” said Dr. Azzam, the state epidemiologist.
As a precaution, he said, the department recently increased its monitoring of airborne fibers in southern Nevada.
The department’s reaction has dismayed other scientists who have been watching the research unfold. “I’ve never heard of any state saying, ‘No, you can’t publish your findings,’ ” said Christopher P. Weis, a toxicology adviser to the director of the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences. “To be aware of that situation in your backyard and not explore it doesn’t make sense from a public health standpoint.”
Scientists do not yet understand how, and how often, naturally occurring asbestos can cause disease, said Geoffrey Plumlee, a geochemist at the United States Geological Survey. “We need lots of information available to try to make good decisions,” he said.
Dr. Metcalf and Dr. Buck have become increasingly outspoken about what they see as a need for protective measures, such as wearing protective face masks in areas of high asbestos concentration and limiting outdoor activities on windy days.
Their efforts are a civic duty, they say, not scaremongering.
“We live here,” Dr. Buck said. “Part of being a good scientist is being a good neighbor.”
Denied access to Nevada’s cancer registry, Dr. Baumann and her colleagues turned to cancer data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention for confirmation. On Tuesday, they published a study in The Journal of Thoracic Oncology finding elevated rates of mesothelioma among adults under age 55 in southern Nevada and concluding that it may be linked to exposure to naturally occurring asbestos. Some of the cases were teenagers, the authors reported, and the disease is occurring more frequently among women in southern Nevada than elsewhere.
The research seems likely to provoke a fresh round of debate in a region that is home to a rapidly growing population. But the researchers say that is the way science should work.

“I’ve always thought that with public health research, the important thing is getting information into the open and then discussing it,” Dr. Baumann said.

Thursday, March 5, 2015

How Much Should You Worry About Asbestos in the Home?

Asbestos was a popular material for most of the twentieth century, mainly because of its ability to insulate and act as a fire retardant. In fact, it's still used heavily in some parts of the world, such as India and China. We know enough about the risks now, though, that it's banned outright in more than 50 countries according to and banned for some uses in the US. But how worried should you be if you find it in your home?

Asbestos in the home

asbestos duct tape health safety risk
One of the places you might find asbestos in a home is the duct system. The white tape you see above is of the type that often contains asbestos, although you don't really know without sending a sample to be tested in a lab. If you have an older home with rigid metal ducts, as shown above, it might have the white fabric tape you see in the photo.
The video below, from the 1920s, shows two workers applying a thick insulation material to the boiler and ducts in the home. (Skip to the 6:20 mark to see that part.) That stuff probably had asbestos in it.
Other places you might find asbestos are:
  • Floor tiles
  • Ceiling tiles
  • Vermiculite insulation in attics and walls
  • Roofing and siding
  • Artificial ashes and embers in gas fireplaces
  • Textured paint and patching compounds (banned in 1977)

What health problems does asbestos cause?

The big three diseases listed on all the asbestos websites are:
  • Asbestosis
  • Mesothelioma
  • Lung cancer
All of them result from asbestos fibers getting into the lungs. Asbestos occurs in six mineral types, and all have fibers that are harmful to lung tissue, getting embedded in lung tissue and causing inflammation, scarring, and eventually tumors. The photo below (from the US Geological Survey) shows the fibers of the Chrysotile type, which makes up about 90% of all the commercially available asbestos.
chrysotile asbestos sem image UICCA 500
Asbestosis is an inflammation leading to shortness of breath, coughing, and other breathing problems. Mesothelioma is a cancer of the protective membrane around the lungs. Lung cancer is well known because so many people succumb to it each year, mostly from smoking. (Both of my parents died of lung cancer; both had been smokers.)
The World Health Organization says asbestos exposure leads to these three diseases killing more than 107,000 people worldwide every year. That's a big number. In addition, many more people die of other asbestos-related diseases or suffer various levels of disability.
The problems with asbestos have been known for a long time. The ancient Persians and Romans used the stuff and may have noticed health problems associated with its use. In 1902, asbestos was added to a list of harmful industrial substances in England. Nellie Kershaw, who worked in a factory spinning asbestos fibers into fabric, was the first officially diagnosed case of asbestosis. She died in 1924. (See Discovery of Toxicity section in Wikipedia article on asbestos.)
The consensus in the medical community is that asbestos is dangerous, which is why it's classified as a known human carcinogen. There's no debate on that point, and the lawyers have had a field day litigating asbestos health problems.

Are you at risk?

If you live in a home built before 1980, there's probably some asbestos in it. The stuff was used in a lot of different building materials. But here's the good news for homeowners. The people who get asbestosis, mesothelioma, and asbestos-related lung cancer are almost always people who fall into one of these groups:
  • Asbestos mine, mill, or transportation workers
  • Asbestos product workers (e.g., shipbuilders, construction workers, pipefitters, auto mechanics)
  • Families of asbestos workers (because of fibers brought home on clothes and in hair)
  • People who live near asbestos mines or mills
Another group being watched because of high asbestos exposure are the people involved in the rescue and cleanup efforts in New York City after the 9/11 attacks in 2001. It'll be a while before we know how bad it really was because it generally takes 10 to 40 years for symptoms to appear.
Asbestos in some form is in millions of homes, but I haven't been able to find statistics on the health effects of asbestos exposure in the home. That doesn't mean they aren't there, but the cases of health problems from occupational exposure dominate. The only mention of health problems from exposure in the home that I could find are related to people living with asbestos workers or living near asbestos mines or mills.
That doesn't mean you have nothing to worry about, but I think the National Cancer Institute's view is one to keep in mind:
Everyone is exposed to asbestos at some time during their life. Low levels of asbestos are present in the air, water, and soil. However, most people do not become ill from their exposure. People who become ill from asbestos are usually those who are exposed to it on a regular basis, most often in a job where they work directly with the material or through substantial environmental contact.
In other words, don't panic.

What should you do about asbestos in the home?

If you do find something in your home that you think may contain asbestos, rule number one is:
Don't mess with it!
If you see white tape on your ducts, as shown in the photo above, vermiculite insulation in your attic, as shown below, it's probably not causing a problem as long as it's undisturbed. (Vermiculite insulation, which may contain the Tremolite types of asbestos, is a big enough topic that I'll write a whole article about it later.) Asbestos isn't like radioactivity, which can be a hazard because it constantly emits radiation. Asbestos only becomes a problem if it becomes airborne and gets into your lungs at a high enough dose.
vermiculite attic insulation asbestos risk
If you're concerned about a particular material in your home, you can call an asbestos inspection company to come in and have the material tested. They'll take samples using the approved protocols and send them to a lab for testing. When you get the results back, the company you hired can help you decide what your next steps should be.
As long as you're not planning to make changes to the home that require disturbing it, it might be best just to leave the material alone. If the suspected asbestos-containing material is friable, encapsulating or enclosing the material can help prevent the fibers from getting into the air. But this's not a job to be taken lightly, so you should hire a pro. The US EPA has a good page for homeowners on what to do if you may have asbestos in your home.

A word to the pros

For those who work in the fields of HVAC, insulation, plumbing, home performance, or remodeling and deal with older homes, you're likely to come across many homes with materials that may contain asbestos. You owe it to yourself and your family to take all the proper precautions when working with these materials.
You may not have the exposure that killed Nellie Kershaw after only seven years of spinning asbestos fibers into fabric. You may not even get enough exposure over a career to cause problems. Still, do you want to take that chance? I can tell you from my experience with asthma as a child that having difficulty breathing is no fun at all. And from seeing both of my parents die of lung cancer, I can tell you that's not a nice way to go.
If you spend a lot of time in the attics, basements, and crawl spaces of older homes, don't mess around with materials that may be dangerous. Whether you're an employer or employee, check out the OSHA page on asbestos and be safe.


We humans are a curious and ambitious lot, always striving to understand the world around us and improve our circumstances. If a material exists anywhere near the surface of the Earth, we've found it and exploited it for its useful properties. Like the toddler touching the hot stove, though, we often don't discover the harmful properties until after the damage is done. That is also true of asbestos.
The stuff is out in the world now, and we must deal with it. The key is to use caution and know what you're dealing with.

Friday, February 13, 2015

Disposal Of Asbestos Containing Material

Once asbestos has been removed from a location, federal regulations dictate that such waste be disposed of in an approved manner, either in special 6 mil plastic bags that have "zip-lock" type fasteners and are sealed with duct tape, or in sealed, 55 gallon drums designed for this purpose.
The rules and regulations regarding asbestos waste disposal vary according to several factors, including the percentage of actual asbestos and what other chemical and/or toxic substances may be present. Local and state regulations also have some bearing on the issue.
Different Types of Asbestos Waste
Friable asbestos material is any substance that contains more than 1% asbestos and can be crumbled or pulverized by hand when dry. If it cannot be crushed by hand, it is considered non friable.
Packings, gaskets, floor covering and asphalt roofing containing more than 1% asbestos is classified as Category I non-friable asbestos-containing material. Anything outside of these products that cannot be crushed and pulverized by hand is considered Category II (non-friable).
Any asbestos product that is friable is considered Regulated Asbestos-Containing Material. This includes products listed above that has or may become friable due to age and exposure or mechanical action such grinding, sanding, cutting, etc. 
Asbestos-containing waste materials consist of materials that contain asbestos or have become contaminated with asbestos in the course of demolition or renovation projects. This includes any disposable equipment and protective clothing.
Preparing ACM Waste For Transport
Any potentially friable asbestos-containing materials must be kept wet in order to keep fibers from becoming airborne. It is in this state that they will be packaged for transport to a disposal facility.
All asbestos-containing material (ACM) waste must be placed in approved, marked containers. Smaller amounts are contained in special sealable plastic bags; in addition to being "zipped," these bags must also be sealed with duct tape. Large amounts must be sealed inside plastic 55-gallon drums made for this purpose.
Any vehicle used to transport ACM waste must have identifying markings during loading and unloading, and all containers of ACM waste must be labeled with the name of the waste generator as well as the location from which it is coming.
A Waste Shipment Record (WSR) must be given to the operator of the disposal facility, who must then insure that the amount of waste indicated on the WSR matches the amount actually delivered. Any discrepancies are reported to the state agency (usually the department of environmental quality, or DEQ) to which the initial report of the removal project was made. In addition, a copy of the WSR must be returned to the waste generator within 35 days; if not received within 45 days, the waste generator will need to file a report with the state DEQ.
Information regarding authorized disposal sites and regulations regarding asbestos disposal can be obtained by calling the Environmental Protection Agency Ombudsman at 1-800-368-5888.
It should be noted that private homeowners are not generally subject to the regulations outlined above; however, these regulation are in place for the good of public safety. If you are a homeowner and need asbestos removed from your home, it is always best to have it done by a qualified professional. Otherwise, the best course of action is to follow the regulations and procedures above.

'Disposal Of Asbestos Containing Material' Sources:

Sunday, October 26, 2014

Odd asbestos-containing materials found during building suveys

Odd asbestos-containing materials found during building suveys

Technical Chief - The Environmental InstituteTop Contributor
We have a lot of interest here in the odd materials we find during building surveys...especially those many might not always find even with much experience. If you have odd materials you've found that you can describe with how they were used...let's make a list so we can all benefit from the combined experiences.
  • Stephen
    Gheen Engineering
    Good topic! I'm always interested in expanding may knowledge and avoiding change orders. I'm not sure these qualify as odd materials, but they are often asbestos containing and I don't often see them in other consultant's reports: vapor barrier behind brick veneer; vapor barrier on the interior side of exterior walls behind plaster; gypsum roof deck (this is less often ACM, but I've found it on at least 3 roofs); mastic / vapor barrier below floor filler and flooring; and vapor barrier below terrazzo floors. I'm sure I've forgotten others.
    Tom Laubenthal, Jim Evans and 2 others like this
  • Jim Evans
    Senior Environmental Consultant at Watts Architecture & Engineering
    Tom, great topic! Thanks.
    Stephen, let me add bituminous waterproofing on concrete foundation walls below grade. We often expect it to be there, but rarely bring a shovel or backhoe to an asbestos survey. Are we noting in our reports that our survey excludes below grade materials? Hope so!

    How about built-up roofing UNDER concrete? We designed removal of built-up roofing on a concrete roof deck years ago. When removal was finished, the contractor showed us a surprise. The concrete was actually a repair, and was on top of another built-up roof on another concrete roof deck. Ouch, that was a heck of a change order.

    Transite breaker blocks for electrical circuits, and transite board behind electrical panels.

    Transite sandwiched between sheet metal for window infill panels - typical 1970s energy conservation measure of installing smaller windows in schools and offices, and filling the rest of the opening with these transite sandwiches.

    Electrical wire insulation or jacket. Not only in old buildings, but sometimes within 1950s to 1980s fluorescent light fixtures.

    Paper, or foil and paper, insulation above light bulbs in old incandescent light fixtures.
  • Tom Laubenthal
    Technical Chief - The Environmental Institute
    Top Contributor
    A friend involved with a building demo found elevator cars coated with a black sealant of some sort that was ~15% chrysotile (on the exterior of sides and rear metal panels). When the elevator cars we dismantled, a demo guy starting cutting through the door with a reciprocating saw only to find the door stuffed with perfectly layered corrugated asbestos paper insulation.
    Tony R., Yilmael D. like this
  • Jim Evans

HVAC boot cleared of Asbestos in Los Angeles