You can not identify or rule out asbestos in suspect materials, either using the naked eye or by the age of the building. EPA/NESHAP regulation requires all commercial and public buildings (including residential buildings consisting of four or more dwellings) to be inspected for asbestos prior to demolition or renovation. Furthermore, North Carolina Health Hazard Control Unit has adopted this requirement. This includes the disturbance of building materials by cutting, sawing, drilling, grinding, breaking, etc. This standard does not have a cut off date that would omit buildings of a certain age. It is important to note that Material Safety Data Sheets (MSDS) do not list asbestos as a component used in production. If asbestos is not listed on the MSDS, it does not guarantee that asbestos is not in the product. A product must be labeled as “no asbestos in this product” to be sure asbestos is not present.
The most common method used for identifying asbestos in bulk samples is Polarized Light Microscope (PLM). Another method used for identifying asbestos in bulk samples is Transmission Electron Microscopy (TEM). PLM is less expensive, but TEM is more precise and can be used at lower concentrations of asbestos.
If asbestos abatement is performed, completion of the abatement is verified using visual confirmation. Air sampling may also be required depending on the circumstances, including but not limited to, the amount of asbestos abated, as well as the method of abatement. Phase Contrast Microscopy (PCM) is the most common method used for asbestos air sampling, and airborne occupational exposure limits for asbestos are based on the PCM method.
Exposure to asbestos becomes an issue if asbestos-containing materials become airborne due to circumstances such as deterioration, maintenance and repairs, or demolition. The most dangerous asbestos fibers are too small to see with the naked eye. If they are inhaled, they can remain and accumulate in the lungs. Asbestos exposure may cause mesothelioma or lung cancer.
Custodial, maintenance and construction workers may be at an increased risk as they may potentially clean up or disturb asbestos-containing materials without knowing that the material contains asbestos.
Building materials that may contain asbestos in homes or buildings include a variety of products, such as: stiple used in textured walls and ceilings; drywall joint filler compound; asbestos-contaminated vermiculite, vinyl floor tile; vinyl sheet flooring; window putty; mastic; cement board; furnace tape; and stucco. Asbestos can also be found in roofing materials, mainly corrugated cement roof sheets and shingles as well as fireproofing and acoustic materials.
Depending on the circumstances including but not limited to, the amount of asbestos abated, as well as the method of abatement, an Asbestos Abatement Design and air monitoring plan may be required. The Asbestos Abatement Design must be written by a licensed or accredited asbestos abatement designer and is intended to protect the abatement contractor, the building owner, and the public. Even when not required by law, an Asbestos Abatement Design can be critical in ensuring a successful project.
North Carolina Health Hazards Control Unit (NCHHCU) requires an Asbestos Abatement Design for the removal of 3,000 sq ft or 1,500 linear feet of regulated asbestos in public and commercial buildings.
O&M plans are designed to manage asbestos in buildings and allow operation and maintenance activities to be performed safely. If asbestos is identified in your building Phoenix EnviroCorp can provide options including, but not limited to an O&M plan that would minimize potential asbestos exposure.