Asbestos was once a widely used construction material that has since been phased out by the industry. Today, it is most commonly found in older homes and properties. Asbestos poses a significant health risk when it becomes airborne. When inhaled, the mineral’s fibers accumulate in the lungs, causing a range of diseases including lung cancer, mesothelioma, and asbestosis. Suspected asbestos-containing materials should always be sampled via an asbestos testing survey prior to disturbance. Do you need asbestos services? Karl Environmental Group can help.
What is an Asbestos-Containing Material?
The EPA defines an asbestos-containing material (ACM) as a material that contains more than one percent (>1%) asbestos fibers. To make this determination, samples of suspect asbestos material must undergo microscopic analysis. Materials containing more than one percent asbestos fibers are considered ACM and are regulated by Federal, State, and Local Regulations regarding their handling and disturbance.
Asbestos-Containing Materials in Buildings
Despite early health warnings, asbestos mining and manufacturing exploded in the 20th Century. Between 1900 and 1910, world production tripled to 110,000 tons. Increased demand was fueled by the demand for cost-effective, mass-produced construction materials. With the added bonus of being a thermal and electrical insulator, the production of asbestos-containing materials soared. Soon, asbestos was used in a whole range of products, such as gaskets, valves, floor tiles, ceiling tiles, adhesives, plaster, siding, pipes, pipe insulation, roofing materials, spray-on fireproofing, textured paint, cement sheets, fire blankets, joint compound, caulking, and glazing.
Asbestos-containing materials in buildings are classified into the following categories:
These include ACM that is sprayed, trowled-on, or otherwise applied to surfaces, such as sprayed-on fireproofing on structural members, and plaster.
Thermal System Insulation (TSI)
These include ACM that has been applied to pipes, fittings, boilers, tanks, ducts, or other structural components to prevent heat loss or gain.
This category includes all other ACM, including joint compound, floor tiles, mastics, and roofing materials.
How an Asbestos Testing Survey Works
Renovations, demolition, and construction in older properties that may contain asbestos can be dangerous. Disturbing the material can cause it to become airborne. In these cases, an asbestos testing survey is recommended prior to construction or renovation to test for the presence of the material and to prevent the spread of asbestos fibers. During the testing survey, bulk samples of suspect asbestos-containing materials are taken throughout the property. These samples are then tested by an independent accredited laboratory to determine if asbestos is present. If it is, Karl Environmental will provide recommendations and a full report as to what you should do to prevent exposure during construction. If you follow current regulations and guidelines, you can significantly minimize your environmental liability and risk.
Asbestos Abatement Project Design
In the event that a property is to undergo construction, renovation, or demolition activities that will disturb regulated asbestos-containing materials, the asbestos must first be abated by a licensed abatement firm. Certified Asbestos Project Designers create custom plans and specifications for abatement projects to make sure that all work is performed in accordance with Federal (NESHAP/AHERA), State, and Local Regulations. A properly implemented abatement specification by Karl Environmental’s independent Asbestos Project Designers will help to make sure that all regulations are followed and project completion dates are met.
AHERA – Asbestos in Schools
Almost half of schools in the U.S. were constructed between 1950 and 1969 when asbestos materials were highly prevalent in construction. The EPA’s Asbestos Hazard Emergency Response Act (AHERA) requires that accredited inspectors reinspect school buildings at least once every three years to reassess the condition of asbestos-containing materials. The inspection notes the current condition of the asbestos materials, allowing for the determination of the relative degree of damage and likelihood of future fiber release. Routine surveillance checks must also be conducted every six months to monitor the condition of the asbestos materials. As long as asbestos building materials remain in good condition, the EPA states that they pose minimal health risks and recommends that schools leave them in place.
Schools are also required to develop and maintain Asbestos Management Plans, a copy of which must be kept at each school. The plans are required to document the location of asbestos within the school, date of inspection, plans for re-inspections, recommended asbestos response actions, contact information for designated persons, and any action taken to repair or remove ACM. The EPA requires that all inspections and response actions be carried out by certified professionals and that all custodial staff attend asbestos awareness training. Karl Environmental’s team of asbestos professionals have years of experience performing AHERA services and asbestos services for schools throughout Pennsylvania and New Jersey.
Asbestos Operations and Maintenance (O&M) Programs
O&M programs are required for facilities to plan how to manage their asbestos. Programs include details on training, cleaning, work practices, and surveillance to ensure that asbestos-containing materials remain in good condition. A well-developed program will include information on how to maintain ACM in good condition, ensure for the proper cleanup of small releases asbestos fibers, prevention for the further release of fibers, and monitoring of the condition of the materials.
Asbestos Air Sampling
Air sampling for asbestos fibers requires the use of calibrated high-volume pumps fitted with specialized filter cassettes. Air sampling can be performed during an abatement project to ensure that asbestos fibers are not being released to areas outside the designated work zone, and following the completion of asbestos abatement to ensure that the area is clean and safe to reoccupy. Asbestos air sampling can be performed using either phase contrast microscopy (PCM) or the more advanced (yet more expensive) transmission electron microscopy (TEM) method. Contact Us for more information.
Proper training is essential to ensure that workers and building occupants are kept safe when asbestos tasks are performed. The EPA stipulates three levels of training for those working around asbestos: Type 1 Awareness Training for maintenance and custodial staff involved in minor maintenance activities where ACM may be accidently dusturbed, Type 2 Special O&M Training for maintenance and custodial staff involved in small maintenance and repair tasks, and Type 3 Abatement Worker Training for asbestos workers who conduct asbestos abatement activities. See our Training Page for more information.
If regulated asbestos-containing materials are to be disturbed by construction, renovation, or demolition, they must first be properly removed. The National Emission Standards for Hazardous Air Pollutants (NESHAP) regulations under the Clean Air Act specify work practices to be followed during demolition and renovation of all structures, installations, and buildings. Asbestos abatement activities are regulated by the EPA, OSHA, and State agencies. Asbestos-containing materials must be properly handled during removal and significant precautions taken to protect workers, building occupants, and the public. These include the enclosure or isolation of work areas, use of protective clothing and equipment, monitoring of exposure, waste containment, and medical surveillance of workers. Karl Environmental’s remediation division consists of experienced asbestos abatement supervisors and abatement workers who are fully licensed for asbestos abatement activities of all sizes. See our Remediation and Abatement Page for more information.
Karl Environmental – Qualified and Experienced
Karl Environmental Group has been a fully licensed, insured, and accredited asbestos consulting firm for over 25 years. We are credentialed in the City of Philadelphia and throughout Pennsylvania and New Jersey to provide full asbestos testing, consulting, and abatement services. We work with clients from the private and public sectors as well as individual home owners. Our asbestos services include:
- AHERA 3-Year Re-Inspection
- AHERA 6-Month Surveillance
- Operations and Maintenance (O&M) Programs
- Asbestos Management Plans
- OSHA Personal Monitoring
- Asbestos Inspections and Surveys
- Asbestos Abatement/Remediation
- Air, Soil, and Bulk Sampling
- Abatement and Bidding Specifications
- Project Management/Development
- Project Compliance Monitoring
- Asbestos Clearance Sampling
- Asbestos Awareness Training
- Asbestos Worker Training
Our team of professionals is ready to provide you with the best possible service, conducted in accordance with Federal, State, and Local Regulations. If you suspect asbestos is present at your property, contact us for consultation today.