It sounds like something out of a horror movie.
An invisible menace lurks in the air. Every time you take a breath, its presence enters your body and stays there. Slowly, silently, it digs deeper into you, lodging itself with microscopic hooks into the tissue of your lungs. With each inhalation, its hold over you grows stronger. You may not notice it at first, but if allowed to remain, this unwelcome guest is likely to kill you.
It sounds like fiction, but it’s not. It’s asbestos, a common component of many modern building materials (yes, still), and it could be lurking in any Colorado home or commercial building. These materials are safe as long as they remain undamaged. But during demolition, previously contained fibers of asbestos can enter the air as dust particles, leading to hazardous conditions for workers and anyone in the vicinity. So, if you’re part of a renovation or demolition project, you may need to bring in an expert to test for asbestos.
Use the following checklist to help reduce your risk and confirm you’re meeting federal guidelines on when to do asbestos testing.
Some building owners think that if a building is less than five years old or constructed after the EPA began regulating asbestos that they’re free to ignore asbestos testing requirements. The truth is that there are no exceptions to the federal law that mandates asbestos surveys because asbestos has never been fully removed from all new building materials. It can be present in many forms, even in recent construction.
Under the Clean Air Act (specifically under NESHAP, the National Emission Standards for Hazardous Air Pollutants), it says that asbestos testing must be performed prior to any renovation or demolition activity, with no exceptions regarding the age or date of construction.
Since renovation and demolition usually go hand in hand, NESHAP applies the same rules as above. The only exception is if a structure is unsound and could be dangerous for an inspector to enter. In that case, a special exemption must be obtained from the state or local NESHAP enforcement agency.
Many asbestos-based materials found in older Colorado buildings, such as insulation and fireproofing, can easily crumble as it ages. Even simple maintenance work or routine repairs can disturb these materials and cause harmful asbestos fibers to enter the air.
So, all older buildings should be inspected periodically for the presence of asbestos-containing materials to determine whether any have become potential hazards. Depending on the type of asbestos found, re-inspections should occur every 6 to 12 months. If you already own an older building that’s never been inspected, it’s in your interests to start now. And always test for asbestos before purchasing an older facility to help determine if it is a wise investment.
Whenever a tenant, employee, or other building occupant complains that they may have encountered asbestos, you should follow up right away. Whether the danger is actual or imagined, it’s important to take the complaint seriously and respond immediately. Ask the person:
The tenant may be correct, or you may find some other source for the complaint. If there’s no cause for concern, you can both can rest easy on the basis of the inspection results. But in any case, it’s always better to investigate and handle a complaint than to ignore it and risk legal and regulatory consequences.
For comprehensive inspections, contact Cyclone Kleen Up to handle asbestos testing and removal. We have the proper equipment and our staff has been trained in the appropriate procedure to make sure that your properties are free from the harmful effects of asbestos.