Here in central Ohio, as in much of the country, there was a tremendous building boom back in the 1960s and 1970s to meet the demands of the burgeoning Baby Boomer generation. Back then in Ohio, asbestos was thought to be a reliable, cost-effective fire retardant, and heat insulator. It became part and parcel of many homes and buildings, as insulation or as part of other materials, such as:
- Roof shingles
- Vermiculite insulation
- Ceiling tiles & coatings
- Popcorn ceilings
- Drywall & cement sheets
- Plaster, putties, & caulking
- Electrical switchboard panels
- Thermal boiler & fireplace insulation
- Vinyl floor tiles
- Plumbing fixtures
- Pipe & duct coverings
As you can see, the list became quite extensive.
Ohio Asbestos Today
Flash forward to the present, and we realize that we need to be a lot more cautious about how we deal with asbestos. Although it's still not completely banned in the United States, improper handling has now been linked to severe diseases such as:
- Lung cancer
- Other chronic respiratory conditions
If you're purchasing an older home, inspect for possible asbestos contamination. If your home has been damaged or you're involved in a home or office remodeling project, here are the next steps you should take if you suspect asbestos.
3 Steps if You Suspect Asbestos
Step 1: Stop Working!
If you suspect asbestos in any of the insulation, tiling or other home materials, or if you observe cracked or broken materials which might contain asbestos, stop working on the project immediately!
Stirring it up and having particles fly through the air unabated can be dangerous to you, your family, your pets, and anyone who enters your home.
- Do not remove or repair any materials yourself.
- Do not sweep, vacuum, or mop.
- Do not throw any items in the garbage or wash them down the sewer.
- Keep children and pets out of the area.
- Do not touch any of the suspected asbestos with your bare hands.
Step 2: Contact a Professional Abatement Company
For your safety and that of your family, always contact a professional abatement company to handle any suspected asbestos in your home.
A certified asbestos inspector will come in, assess the situation, and take samples to be sent to a lab for positive identification. If asbestos is confirmed, you will then be advised of the best course of action. Considerations when looking for these companies include:
- Understand that there are different types of asbestos abatement work. Depending on the extent of exposure, you may need a company that specializes in encapsulation, repair, removal, or even possible demolition.
- Workers need extensive training on work area preparation, personal protection, decontamination, safety, handling and disposal.
- Always check credentials and obtain a written cost quotation, along with a specific outline of the actions they will perform.
- Make sure they are in compliance with all local and Ohio state asbestos management requirements.
Step 3: Choose the Best Removal Strategy
Once the asbestos has been identified and a professional abatement firm has been engaged, these are several possible courses of action they might recommend. Costs vary based on the extent of the work involved:
If the exposure danger is minimal, the company might be able to encapsulate the asbestos in some other type of material to prevent it from escaping into the air.
The abatement company might be able to repair the damaged material. This work is usually performed in a secured environment where the atmosphere and particulates can be completely controlled.
It may be best for the occupants of your home if the material is removed completely. This requires special handling along the entire removal route, so as not to contaminate other areas. The asbestos must be completely enveloped, and removed materials must be disposed of at approved facilities.
All areas must be carefully sealed with plastic and duct tape before any work begins. Separate air filtration systems may be needed so as not to intermingle with other air in the home.
Although it might seem like an involved process, this is one which ultimately saves lives. It's not a time to cut corners or do it yourself. Hiring a professional company is always the safest and wisest decision to protect you, your family and others from this deadly carcinogen.
It might be possible that the best course of action is demolition because the exposure hazard is too great. Once again, the demolition of a contaminated property should not be taken lightly.
Only work with an expert in the field who will perform the job safely and professionally.
Treating asbestos with seriousness, carefulness, and professionally is the only way to ensure your air remains safe to breathe. Discovering asbestos can be scary, but keeping in mind the above tips helps you to be prepared if you ever discover asbestos in your Ohio property.
Be sure to check out the complete Asbestos Abatement guide to make sure you're properly handling asbestos when you suspect it's present.