Asbestos & Mold Removal

mold and water damageMany buildings, particularly those built before the 1980s, contain asbestos & mold.  Asbestos was most commonly used in insulation, but can also be found in many other building components, including siding, roof shingles, and acoustic ceilings.  Problem is, asbestos fibers in the air can be inhaled, causing scarring of the lungs and even lung cancer.

How hazardous mold and asbestos is depends on where it is, how it was applied, and whether it has been disturbed.  If it’s in a crawlspace or other out of the way area and intact, it’s probably safe enough.  If it’s in your walls or ceilings, or you’re planning a major renovation, it could be quite hazardous.

Asbestos that can be easily released into the air, such as that used in acoustic ceilings, is called “friable”.  Asbestos that is more stable and unlikely to be released into the air, such as that used in floor tile, is “nonfriable”.

Laws vary on precautions required when removing mold & asbestos, and on how strictly these laws are enforced.  If you have mold or asbestos in your home, or think you may, you should contact a licensed contractor for testing or removal.  As the homeowner, you have a duty to verify that your contractor is qualified to do the job.  Ask for:

  • A license, if it is required where you live,
  • Specific liability insurance relating to asbestos abatement & mold removal,
  • Worker training within the previous year,
  • Equipment testing within six months,
  • Accreditation with ARCA (Asbestos Removal Contractors Association) or other asbestos-related organization.

Having Asbestos & Mold Removed

Ideally, the building will be evacuated while the procedure is being done and the building sealed off.  A building containing mold or asbestos that is set to be demolished should have the material removed prior to demolition.

If this isn’t practical, the part of the building being worked on should be sealed off.  Sealing typically involves sheets of polyethylene secured with duct tape and negative air pressure machines with HEPA filters to prevent any fibers from escaping.

During removal, a special vacuum designed specifically to contain mold & asbestos must be used.  Your regular household vacuum will expel fibers.

Removing mold and asbestos isn’t the only way to deal with it.  In some cases, asbestos and materials containing it can be sealed to prevent the release of the fibers.  This should also be done by a qualified mold abatement professional.

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