What Is Asbestos?
According to the Environmental Protection Agency Asbestos is: “A mineral fiber that occurs in rock and soil. Asbestos is a term used to refer to six naturally occurring silicate minerals. All are composed of long and thin fibrous crystals, each fiber is composed of many microscopic ‘fibrils’ that can be released into the atmosphere by abrasion and other processes. Asbestos is often transferred into a fluffy consistency.
Why Is Asbestos Used?
Asbestos fibers are strong, soft and flexible allowing the material to withstand tremendous heat, electricity, and corrosion. These qualities have made asbestos useful in building construction materials for insulation and as a fire-retardant. These qualities; however, can pose a health risk.
Where Is Asbestos Most Often Found?
Asbestos is more common in homes than you may realize. Asbestos can appear in various locations in your home. The most common areas you should be concerned with; but not limited to, are external siding, pipe wrap, linoleum flooring, and mastic. These products containing asbestos remain prevalent in many homes throughout New England.
External Siding – Most; not all, asbestos-containing siding looked like cement board. It is about one-quarter inch thick, 10” to 12” tall, and 18” to 24” wide. You could paint it, but most homeowners previously choose to leave it in its natural grey color.
Pipe Wrap – Pipes found in basements were wrapped in a material that had a cloth outer shell and internally it looked like corrugated cardboard which is often found to be asbestos. This wrap came in three-foot lengths and was secured to the pipe with metal clips. When this type of wrap was used – a paste was created and applied to the corners. The pipe and this material were also normally found to be asbestos based. There is newer pipe wrap that looks like fiberglass and is yellow or pink in color with a similar cloth exterior which in many cases is not asbestos. However, the only way to confirm the presence or absence of asbestos is by way of a laboratory test to confirm.
Linoleum Flooring – Traditionally linoleum came in 9” or 12” square tiles or in large rolls. Historically the 9” tiles are older and are more commonly asbestos-based where the 12” tiles are newer and not commonly asbestos based. The rolled style was known to contain asbestos in the older applications and not the newer but there is no way to determine old versus new linoleum regardless of size without a laboratory test to confirm.
Mastic – Mastic; or glue, is the adhesive used to adhere to tile or other products to the subfloor or existing floor. It was normally black or white in color. Traditionally the black mastic contained asbestos and the white did not – but again both need to be tested. When removing flooring you are potentially dealing with many layers as it was common in the past to not remove the old floor and to simply go over it. If the top layer of linoleum does not contain asbestos but the mastic used to adhere it to the layer below is asbestos then whatever the mastic is touching must also be removed. This can potentially mean many layers of flooring and subflooring must be removed.
Recognizing The Presence Of Asbestos
It is not possible to look at something and determine if it is or is not asbestos. A laboratory specializing in asbestos testing needs to be utilized to confirm the presence of asbestos.
Asbestos Abatement (removal)
Asbestos needs to be removed (abated) by trained and certified professionals for the safety of anyone working or living in close proximity to Asbestos. Prior to the removal of asbestos licenses and permits from the EPA, and your local municipality in accordance with state laws are in place.
Insurcomm Asbestos Abatement
Asbestos can be a very dangerous product if established rules and regulations are not adhered to during the removal process. To avoid any conflict of interest, a third party is hired to conduct all testing.
Once it has been determined that the presence of this dangerous substance is present on-site, Insurcomm will file the appropriate paperwork with the state and secure the necessary permits for remediation.
Once all paperwork and permits are in place the area will be quarantined, a cleansing station for all asbestos workers to utilize when entering and departing the area will be constructed. The establishment of a negative air system and specialized dumpsters are wrapped and put in place for all hazardous waste during the ongoing work. Once the asbestos has been removed from the involved area and that area has been cleaned and vacuumed utilizing HEPA vacuums the third laboratory will dispatch a licensed hygienist to perform a visual inspection and also perform a third party clearance test to ensure there are no dust particulates in the air.
At Insurcomm, we have the experience and understand that the removal of this dangerous substance involves strict adherence to an intricate procedure followed by a delicate and thorough approach toward removal. If you have questions about asbestos, Insurcomm is available 24 hours a day 7 days a week at 844-424-9283 or online at insurcomm.com.