Asbestos Abatement

What Is Asbestos Abatement?

Asbestos abatement is the procedure of controlling the release of asbestos fibers into the environment. Asbestos abatement is most commonly implemented in construction in order to control the risk of asbestos-containing materials. 

Asbestos abatement is implemented when a material containing asbestos is being removed, encapsulated, or repaired. When asbestos-containing materials are damaged or adjusted, micro-particles of asbestos can escape into the environment. These particles can then be inhaled causing a number of health complications. Asbestos abatement is the process that controls those particles for the benefit of workers as well as the general public.

Asbestos abatement is important in residential and commercial construction or renovation where asbestos has been used as a material for flame retardants, thermal insulation, electric insulation, roofing tiles, or a number of other common materials. While most spaces with asbestos will be out of the way, some buildings that have “flock” on the ceiling could expose most passersby to the asbestos contained within.

In recent years, asbestos abatement has become more associated with older buildings as asbestos has been phased out. Asbestos bans have been implemented around the world since 1972. The U.S. does not have any bans in place, although the use and implementation of asbestos is highly regulated.

Key Takeaways

  • Asbestos abatement is a process of controlling the release of asbestos particles from an asbestos-containing material, often occurring during constructions.
  • Asbestos abatement is most likely required in buildings built before 1990 that have fire retardant, “flocking,” heavy insulation, or old cement recipes.
  • Individuals who are having abatement performed on their living space will be prevented from living in their home for the duration of the abatement.
  • If you are living in an environment that has asbestos and you are seeking abatement, or have been exposed to asbestos due to faulty abatement practices, an experienced Personal Injury attorney may be able to improve the outcome of your case by utilizing experience and expert knowledge.

Asbestos Abatement and Personal Injury Law

Asbestos abatement is primarily focused on older buildings. The most likely buildings to have asbestos-containing materials are ones built between 1870 and 1990. These buildings may have asbestos in their:

  • Caulking
  • Cement
  • Duct coverings
  • Drywall
  • Insulation
  • Plaster
  • Plumbing fixtures
  • Roofing tiles
  • Siding

These materials may contain amphibole asbestos particles so small that they are invisible to the human eye. In order to determine whether a material contains asbestos, a sample of the material will need to be analyzed in a laboratory.

The activities that are most likely to require asbestos abatement are more destructive actions like demolishing, sanding, sawing, or puncturing the asbestos-containing materials. Even if an amateur wears a mask with a filter during the process, the asbestos particles could linger in the air for days or settle onto surfaces where they can contaminate the environment.

If asbestos abatement is not carried out with the proper equipment or diligence, then the residents or customers could develop asbestosis, a disease caused by asbestos scarring in the lungs, as well as a number of malignant tumors including the asbestos-associated cancer mesothelioma. According to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency there is no safe level of exposure to asbestos and many conditions the material causes have limited options for treatment or cure. 

Asbestos abatement is an intensive procedure that is designed to improve the health and living environment of an individual’s home. The procedure will require specialized knowledge and equipment. Individuals who suspect that they may have asbestos containing material in their home should begin by disturbing the material as little as possible. This means refraining from cleaning in the area and sealing the room off as much as possible. 

An asbestos abatement professional will begin by performing an on-site inspection and ensuring that there is asbestos and abatement is necessary. This investigation will include sampling the material for analysis.

Once the abatement process begins, the individual will be required to stay somewhere else for the duration of the abatement. Similarly, any commercial buildings will not be permitted to allow workers to move within the building during abatement. 

Once the abatement area has been established, it will be sealed with a three-stage decontamination area. The building’s HVAC system will be disabled, plastic sheets will seal off the area and a HEPA filter will be used to create a negative pressure system. These measures will be used to prevent asbestos dust from escaping the work area. The abatement workers themselves will use protective equipment such as respirators, goggles, disposable gloves, coveralls, and rubber boots.

The actual process of abatement of materials varies by company but generally consists of three stages. First, the asbestos-containing material is wetted. This is meant to limit the airborne dust created from the removal process. Once the material is properly wet, the material is removed and using a specialized HEPA vacuum unit to remove any airborne particles released by the removal.

Second, the removed material is sealed into a leak-proof container while still wet. This is intended to limit the amount of asbestos leaked in transfer. Finally, the materials are disposed of in a special dumpster to be taken to a qualified landfill by a modified vehicle. After the main abatement has been completed, the other surfaces are cleaned using similar water and vacuum methods.

Once the abatement process has been completed, a certified air sampler must confirm that airborne asbestos particle levels are below the limits set by federal or state regulations. Once the air is certifie, the three-stage decontamination system is taken down and a final sweep is made.

Bottom Line 

If you have been exposed to any form of asbestos as the result of a failure to properly abate and have developed any cancers, including mesothelioma, you may be able to file a personal injury lawsuit to recover the costs of medical expenses, pain, suffering, or lost wages. In order to file and prevail in your personal injury lawsuit you will need the help of an experienced Personal Injury Attorney.

With their legal expertise, trial tactics, and expert witnesses, your Personal Injury attorney will be able to zealously advocate for you in order to achieve the best possible outcome for your case. Additionally, since Personal Injury attorneys work on contingency, if you don’t win, you don’t pay.

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