February 7th, 2011 | By: Michelle Whitmer | Comments |
Asbestos exposure has been associated with the development of many serious diseases such as asbestosis and mesothelioma. Contained in a wide range of construction materials until the 1980s, the fibers are still present in many currently utilized buildings including schools, churches, shopping malls, public offices and private homes.
Although asbestos is not a health risk unless its fibers are airborne, many are worried that asbestos could be released if the materials are disturbed. Asbestos removal is the only definite way to eliminate the potential for future exposure, yet this process is not without its own risks.
A 2008 study explored early mortality rates among asbestos removal workers. These individuals, especially those who spent at least 40 hours per week stripping asbestos materials, displayed elevated standardized mortality ratios and a higher rate of death from lung cancer, malignant mesothelioma and circulatory disease. Of the 31,302 asbestos workers who were examined in the survey, there were 985 asbestos-related deaths, including 384 from general cancer, 115 from lung cancer and 23 from mesothelioma. Asbestosis, respiratory disease and circulatory malfunctions also were noted in excess.
The asbestos removal process involves multiple steps such as preparing the worksite, removing the actual asbestos-contaminated material, disposing of the content and ensuring a thorough cleanup of the location.
The most crucial aspect of asbestos removal is ensuring that the particles are not released into the air where they can be ingested. A wet removal of friable asbestos has been shown to help minimize the risk of releasing the fibers. Wetting agents can help make the asbestos settle quickly to the floor, where it can be collected with the other construction components and sealed for disposal. After removal, an inspector should be hired to confirm that no asbestos is present in the air surrounding the removal site.
Although expert removal can cost upwards of a few thousand dollars, the process is best conducted by professionals with extensive training in recognizing and handling asbestos. Although homeowners are legally permitted to remove their own asbestos-containing materials, there are a number of laws set forth by the National Emissions Standards for Hazardous Air Pollutants and the Occupational Safety and Health Administration. Contractors tend to be more familiar with these laws and the procedures that meet them than general citizens are, making professional removal the most efficient choice for those who are seeking to remove asbestos from their property.