We’ve all heard about asbestos, most often with a fearful worry about coming in contact with it. Have you ever wondered if the hype and worry are really valid? Is it just an “old wives’ tale” that you should avoid asbestos materials at all costs?
Today we are going to take a closer look at asbestos, what it is, where it can be found, and how you know if it’s present. Asbestos is especially important to know about if you’re getting ready to undergo the demolition of your New Jersey home or commercial building. Knowledge is power, and in this case, safety.
What Is Asbestos?
Asbestos is a building material that was often used in building homes and commercial properties across the country for several years. Its use began in the early 1900s but became more popular in the 40s. Once it was found to be highly toxic, its use was halted. The discontinuation of asbestos use didn’t happen until the 1970s and even up to 1980. That’s 30-40 years of substantial asbestos use. You can only imagine how many buildings and homes around the world contain asbestos materials!
So, what exactly is asbestos made of? Asbestos is a group of naturally occurring fibrous minerals mined and milled from rock. This material can be found in most countries across the world, but most of it comes from Canada, Australia, South Africa, and the former Soviet Union. It’s a strong substance that doesn’t corrode and is heat and chemical resistant, hence the appeal to use it in various materials. In fact, according to the New Jersey Department of Health, it has been estimated that 3,000 different types of commercial products contain asbestos.
Some asbestos-containing material (ACM) can be found in households as well, including:
- Textured ceilings
- Roofing materials
- Siding material
- Cement panels
- Attic insulation
- Vinyl floor tiles
- Certain types of linoleum
- HVAC duct insulation
- Hot water pipe insulation
- Boiler lagging
- Various fire protection materials
Regulations for Demolition Involving Asbestos
The New Jersey demolition regulations that involve asbestos change depend on what is removed or demolished. Your best and safest route should always be hiring an asbestos abatement professional to handle the removal and disposal of all asbestos materials. Demolition and renovations tend to disturb materials that contain asbestos, even when they’re handled carefully. Safety is the number one priority in all asbestos removal cases.
Once asbestos materials are removed, they can be taken to a landfill that is qualified to take asbestos waste. There are specific protocols for disposing of asbestos waste, and your abatement professional will know the requirements for your region. These protocols often include wetting the materials and placing them in plastic before they can be transported and disposed of. At the landfill, these packaged materials will then be buried.
It’s important to know that if you decide to remove asbestos on your own and then illegally dump it, you could face some hefty fines and even jail time. Safety for all involved (and those not directly involved) is critical in the handling of asbestos!
Did you know that, in some cases, asbestos can even be recycled at specific locations? During recycling, the high heat destroys the asbestos fibers, making them non-hazardous. There is continuous research going on as to the best process for recycling asbestos. Still, it is important to help lower the costs of disposal as well as the dangers associated with improper disposal.
If you believe improper care has been taken with asbestos disposal, call the EPA at 1-800-368-5888 or The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) at 1-800-321-6742.
The National Emission Standards for Hazardous Air Pollutants (NESHAP)
The National Emission Standards for Hazardous Air Pollutants (NESHAP) specify work practices to be followed during asbestos removal during demolitions and renovations. In fact, part of these standards and regulations include the requirement of building owners to notify the appropriate state agency before even beginning demolition and renovations of buildings that could contain a certain threshold amount of asbestos.
NESHAP also regulates and enforces standards for hazardous air pollutants. Manufacturing and fabricating operations cannot emit visible emissions into the outside air. If they do, they must follow certain air cleaning requirements. This group also regulates the removal of waste that contains asbestos.
The Asbestos Hazard Emergency Response Act (AHERA)’s Model Accreditation Plan (MAP)
The Asbestos Hazard Emergency Response Act (AHERA) requires any workers that will be working within a building that contains asbestos materials to be accredited under a training program at least as stringent as the EPA Model Accreditation Plan (MAP). Once they are familiar with the dangers of asbestos, they are sure to follow strict safety guidelines.
The United States Environmental Protection Agency works hard to educate building owners about making and maintaining a program to manage asbestos-containing materials in their buildings. This plan includes training, cleaning, and other work practices to ensure safety. Please note that school buildings are different from other public buildings and have their own regulations and requirements for managing asbestos under the Asbestos Hazard Emergency Response Act (AHERA).
What Happens When Asbestos Is Mishandled?
If potential asbestos risks are ignored, and then materials containing asbestos are mishandled, all those entering the building can be exposed to serious health problems. Asbestos fibers are incredibly hazardous to your health and have been linked to cancers and other potentially fatal diseases.
You may think that it will only take a couple of hours to remove a damaged area of old textured ceiling material. The truth is if the material is damaged, asbestos fibers are easily made airborne, exposing you to very dangerous toxins. Even a couple of hours of exposure can destroy your health for the rest of your life. Asbestos material has been labeled the “silent killer” for good reason. It has been rated the number one cause of work-related deaths not just across the country but throughout the world. Why take the risk with material this unsafe? It’s not worth cutting corners to save a little time or money during your New Jersey demolition project. Your health and the health of your loved ones are too important to risk.
How to Know If Your Demolition Project Requires Asbestos Removal
Depending on the situation, the law may require you to remove asbestos found during your demolition preparations. If the building you’re demolishing is older, you will most likely need an inspection before proceeding. If the material is found, you must have those areas cleaned or removed by a professional before moving forward. A good rule of thumb – always have areas in question tested before disturbing them during demolition or even simple renovations.
Mikula Contracting Cares About the Safety of Your Project
Handling the abatement of asbestos is a serious and important factor in your contracting project. While Mikula Contracting does not remove asbestos, we happily work with your asbestos specialists and handle your demolition and excavation needs post-abatement. Mikula Contracting follows the proper guidelines and regulations for the work we complete and will coordinate with your asbestos specialist to schedule our work accordingly once they’ve completed their work removing any asbestos from your New Jersey-based demolition project. No amount of exposure is safe, even just for a few minutes. Don’t take any chances with your health or the health of those you love. Asbestos is extremely dangerous and should be left to professionals.
Contact Mikula Contracting for any questions regarding post-abatement excavation and demolition. We value the safety of our clients, job sites, and employees, and ensure the work we complete is done according to regulations. Reach out today.