If an asbestos inspection reveals the presence of asbestos-containing materials (ACMs) in a home or building, the next step is abatement. Asbestos abatement is the process of safely removing, repairing or encapsulating ACMs to minimise the risk of exposure. This article outlines what happens after a positive asbestos inspection and the available abatement methods.
Developing an Asbestos Management Plan
After a positive inspection, a comprehensive asbestos management plan should be created. Its plans outlines the steps that will be taken to manage and address asbestos hazards, including procedures for maintenance, repairs, and response to emergencies. The plan should also include details about the location and condition of all ACMs in the building and any scheduled abatement activities.
Choosing the Right Abatement Method
The most appropriate method depends on the type, location, and condition of the ACMs and the potential for disturbance or damage. There are three primary abatement methods:
- Removal: This involves completely removing ACMs from the property. Removal is typically preferred for severely damaged materials or when renovation or demolition work is planned.
- Repair: If ACMs are in good condition but have minor damage, they can be repaired to prevent further deterioration. This may include sealing or patching damaged areas.
- Encapsulation: This involves applying a sealant or barrier to the surface of the ACMs to prevent the release of asbestos fibres. Encapsulation is typically used for materials in good condition that are unlikely to be disturbed.
Hiring a Licensed Asbestos Abatement Contractor
Licensed and experienced professionals should only perform asbestos abatement. These contractors have the necessary training, equipment, and knowledge to handle ACMs safely and comply with regulations. When selecting an asbestos abatement contractor, property owners should:
- Verify the contractor’s license and qualifications.
- Obtain references and check their reputation.
- Request a detailed work plan outlining the scope of work, schedule, and safety measures.
- Ensure the contractor follows all federal, state, and local regulations.
Preparing for Asbestos Abatement
Before the abatement process begins, the contractor will prepare the work area to minimise the risk of asbestos exposure. It may include:
- Isolating the work area by sealing off doors, windows, and vents with plastic sheeting.
- Installing a decontamination chamber for workers to change into protective clothing and clean their equipment.
- A negative air pressure system prevents asbestos fibres from escaping the work area.
- Ensuring proper ventilation and air filtration systems are in place.
The Asbestos Abatement Process
The specific abatement process will depend on the chosen method (removal, repair, or encapsulation). The following steps are generally involved:
- Workers will don personal protective equipment (PPE), including respirators, disposable coveralls, gloves, and goggles.
- The work area will be wetted down to reduce the risk of asbestos fibres becoming airborne.
- ACMs will be removed, repaired, or encapsulated according to the chosen method and the contractor’s work plan.
- All removed materials will be sealed in airtight, labelled containers for proper disposal.
- The work area will be thoroughly cleaned using HEPA-filtered vacuums and wet wiping methods to remove any remaining asbestos fibres.
- Air clearance testing will be conducted to ensure that the work area is safe for re-occupancy.
Once the asbestos abatement is complete, the following activities may be necessary:
- Updating the asbestos management plan to reflect the changes in the location and condition of ACMs.
- Informing occupants and workers about the completed abatement work and any ongoing management activities.
- Conducting periodic inspections to monitor the condition of remaining ACMs and ensure the continued effectiveness of the management plan.
- Properly disposing of asbestos waste according to federal, state, and local regulations.
Asbestos abatement is critical in addressing the risks associated with asbestos-containing materials in homes and buildings. By choosing the appropriate abatement method, hiring a licensed contractor, and following proper safety procedures, property owners can protect the health and well-being of occupants and reduce the potential for asbestos exposure. After a positive asbestos inspection, prompt action is essential to ensure a safe environment for everyone involved.