Asbestos, once hailed as a “miracle mineral,” was widely used in construction materials for its durability, fire resistance, and insulating properties. Unfortunately, it has since been discovered that asbestos exposure can lead to serious health problems, including lung cancer, asbestosis, and mesothelioma. As a result, many homeowners and property owners face the challenge of determining whether their buildings contain asbestos and how to handle it safely.
The Dangers of DIY Asbestos Inspection
While it might be tempting to save money by conducting a do-it-yourself (DIY) asbestos inspection, the risks far outweigh the benefits. Individuals attempting to identify asbestos-containing materials (ACMs) without proper training and equipment may inadvertently release hazardous fibres into the air. It can lead to increased health risks for the occupants of the building and potential legal consequences.
Some of the dangers associated with DIY asbestos inspections include
- A lack of knowledge and experience: Identifying asbestos-containing materials can be challenging for someone without the necessary expertise. As a result, DIY inspections may lead to false conclusions about the presence of asbestos.
- Defective equipment: Professional asbestos inspectors use specialised equipment, such as air sampling devices and laboratory analysis, to accurately identify asbestos fibres. A DIY inspection may provide a different level of accuracy.
- Exposure to asbestos: Disturbing ACMs without proper safety measures can release asbestos fibres into the air, increasing the risk of exposure for occupants and neighbours.
- Non-compliance with regulations: Asbestos regulations are strict, and failure to comply can lead to fines, legal action, and increased liability for property owners.
The Benefits of Professional Asbestos Inspection
A professional asbestos inspection offers several benefits:
- Accurate identification: Certified inspectors have the training and experience to identify ACMs correctly.
- Safety: Professionals adhere to strict safety guidelines, minimising the risk of asbestos exposure.
- Regulatory compliance: A professional inspection ensures federal, state, and local compliance.
- Proper documentation: Certified inspectors provide detailed reports that can be used for legal or insurance purposes.
- Expert advice: Professionals can recommend the best action for managing or removing ACMs.
When to Call an Expert
If your home or building was constructed before the 1980s or you suspect the presence of asbestos, it’s essential to call a professional inspector. Renovations, construction projects, or any damage to the building’s structure are signs that it’s time to seek expert help. Additionally, if you discover suspected ACMs, do not attempt to handle them yourself. Contact a certified asbestos inspector to assess the situation.
The Process of Professional Asbestos Inspection
A professional asbestos inspection typically involves the following steps:
- Preliminary inspection: The inspector will visually examine the property, looking for signs of asbestos-containing materials and any damage or deterioration.
- Sampling: The inspector will collect samples for laboratory analysis if suspect materials are found. It is done using specialised equipment and following strict safety protocols.
- Laboratory analysis: Samples are sent to an accredited laboratory, where they are analysed using polarised light microscopy (PLM) or transmission electron microscopy (TEM) to determine the presence and concentration of asbestos fibres.
- Reporting: The inspector will provide a detailed report outlining their findings, including the location and condition of any ACMs, the results of laboratory analysis, and recommendations for managing or removing the asbestos.
- Post-inspection consultation: The inspector may also offer advice on the next steps, such as developing an asbestos management plan or hiring a licensed abatement contractor to remove the asbestos.
The risks associated with DIY asbestos inspections are too significant to ignore. A professional inspection ensures accurate identification and proper handling of asbestos-containing materials and helps property owners comply with regulations and minimise potential liability. By seeking the help of a certified asbestos inspector, homeowners and property owners can protect the health and safety of occupants and ensure a safer environment.