Friday, August 2, 2013

The Importance of Surveying and Managing Asbestos

Although it has environmental origins, asbestos is one of the most hazardous materials ever used in commercial building products. It is linked to more than a dozen health conditions – including several life-threatening cancers – and heavily affects workers in the construction industry.

Now heavily regulated, asbestos was once used with virtually no restrictions. Companies used it as an ingredient in thousands of construction materials – and many of those original materials still remain in place today.

If they remain in good condition, the materials are not a health risk. However, because many of these materials were installed several decades ago, they may now be beginning to crack or crumble. Construction workers may then be required to repair or replace the products, further increasing the chance that the fibers enter the air.

Once the asbestos is released from the product, the material is considered friable – or dangerous to human health. If asbestos is present and friable, anybody who inhales or ingests is at risk for serious complications, including pleural malignant mesothelioma and lung cancer. And this risk isn’t a short-term deal; many asbestos-related disease patients become ill more than 40 or 50 years after they last inhaled asbestos.

Asbestos Surveys to Protect Workers’ Health
Many building owners perform regular asbestos management surveys. Federal regulations mandate these surveys for all public schools and most government buildings, as well as all older buildings that are set for demolition or renovation. However, other building owners conduct these surveys voluntarily. Even when the surveys are optional, owners should consider the tests to protect the future health of the building’s occupants.

Asbestos surveys help safeguard against these diseases by identifying all contaminated materials within the building. The surveyors will then determine which ones present an immediate health hazard. Asbestos surveys also provide documentation of non-friable asbestos products that may become a threat in the future.

Once the survey is complete, Asbestos Inspectors will create a remedial action plan for each of the friable products. The recommendations often depend on the type, location and condition of the product, as well as the owner’s preferences for encapsulation or total removal.

Scheduling Asbestos Surveys
Before scheduling an asbestos management survey, building owners should check the credentials of the company they plan to hire. Accredited asbestos management companies should always perform the surveys, and all inspectors should have up-to-date licenses

Owners should evacuate the building during the survey, since inspectors may take samples of the fibers. To provide the most accurate results, surveyors should review the following details before the survey:

·       Site layout
·       Building specifications
·       Future building plans
·       Past asbestos inspection history

Depending on the type of asbestos and its condition, surveyors should inspect an asbestos-contaning building every six to 12 months. If any renovations impact the results of the survey, inspectors should perform another follow-up inspection to ensure the safety of the building’s residents.

Faith Franz is a writer for The Mesothelioma Center. She strives to spread the word about the benefits of alternative medicine.