How to spot asbestos in poor condition & what to do about it
ASBESTOS in POOR CONDITION - CONTENTS: how to recognize unsafe asbestos materials in buildings: asbestos products that are in poor condition or subject to damage, movement, becoming airborne or otherwise forming a particular hazard.
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How to identify damaged or unsafe asbestos installations: this article shows how to spot asbestos in poor or damaged condition in buildings & what to do about it, including
identification of amateur or improper asbestos "abatement" projects that failed to properly remove materials or that left abandoned
asbestos materials in place.
ASBESTOS IN POOR CONDITION on heating pipes - How to Recognize
This document assists building buyers, owners or inspectors who need to identify asbestos materials (or probable-asbestos) in buildings by simple
We provide photographs and descriptive text of asbestos insulation and other asbestos-containing products
to permit identification of definite, probable, or possible asbestos materials in buildings.
While an expert lab test using polarized light microscopy may be needed to identify the specific type of
asbestos fiber, or to identify the presence of asbestos in air or dust samples,
keep in mind that many asbestos-containing building products
not only are obvious and easy to recognize, but since there were not other look-alike products that were not asbestos, a visual identification of this material can be virtually a certainty in many cases.
Asbestos insulation in poor condition like this water pipe asbestos insulation in an 1875 home (falling off, or mechanically damaged) should be removed and properly disposed-of by an asbestos abatement professional.
INCOMPLETE, AMATEUR REMOVAL - Asbestos on heating pipes - incomplete, amateur removal - highly suspect for contamination
Shown above, fuzzy scraps of asbestos-suspect material left on a rusty steel heating pipe in a basement indicate that
asbestos insulation was removed without cleaning and sealing the surface of the pipe.
Shown below is a close up of asbestos debris left on a heating pipe. The insulation was simply removed without cleaning.
Below we illustrate another heating pipe elbow which was not cleaned of asbestos insulation. Unlike the "corrugated paper" asbestos
insulation used on horizontal pipe runs, an asbestos paste was used at pipe elbows and on other irregular shapes.
Here is a close up of asbestos insulation paste left on a pipe elbow, evidence of amateur workmanship during
an asbestos insulation remediation.
The orangish fibrous material under the
white covering on the straight pipe runs is fiberglass pipe insulation which has been added.
But the remaining paste on the
elbow tells us that the pipes were not cleaned and washed during the remediation.
Someone installed fiberglass heating pipe insulation around the elbow but left
the elbow un-cleaned.
The building owner had been told that a proper asbestos removal had been performed and that all pipes were re-insulated.
A professional asbestos abatement company with properly-trained workes and competent supervision would have washed these pipes and probably painted them with a sealant.
Finding scraps of
asbestos insulation material left on heating pipes (such as in these photos)
is a strong indicator that removal was done by an amateur. In such cases I recommend that the
building air and settled dust on surfaces be tested for asbestos contamination since removal was by amateurs.
Any air handling equipment
(such as a central air conditioning system) should also be checked for asbestos fiber contamination.
When we see evidence of short cuts and amateur workmanship in an asbestos remediation project we're worried that
there may have been asbestos contamination of other site or building areas.
So the expense to "correct" this condition,
if testing confirms cross-contamination of the site with asbestos fibers, could be greater than the simple cost to
clean and re-insulate the piping. Professional cleaning of other building areas could be needed.
Watch out: in 2010 The New York Times reported [paraphrasing from that article] that over a five year period beginning in 2001 hundreds of asbestos-removal training certificates were given to people who had completed no training whatsoever.
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June 1997 - Window Putty - OSHA case cites contractor for asbestos exposure during removal of window putty http://www.osha.gov/pls/oshaweb/owadisp.show_document?p_table=NEWS_RELEASES&p_id=1091
Asbestos Identification and Testing References
Asbestos Identification, Walter C.McCrone, McCrone Research Institute, Chicago, IL.1987 ISBN 0-904962-11-3. Dr. McCrone literally "wrote the book" on asbestos identification procedures which formed
the basis for current work by asbestos identification laboratories.
Stanton, .F., et al., National Bureau of Standards Special Publication 506: 143-151
Pott, F., Staub-Reinhalf Luft 38, 486-490 (1978) cited by McCrone
Asbestos in Your Home U.S. EPA, Exposure Evaluation Division, Office of Toxic Substances, Office of Pesticides and Toxic Substances, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, Washington,D.C. 20460
Asbestos products and their history and use in various building materials such as asphalt and vinyl flooring includes discussion which draws on Asbestos, Its Industrial Applications, D.V. Rosato, engineering consultant, Newton, MA, Reinhold Publishing, 1959 Library of Congress Catalog Card No.: 59-12535 (out of print, text and images available at InspectAPedia.com).
"Handling Asbestos-Containing roofing material - an update", Carl Good, NRCA Associate Executive Director, Professional Roofing, February 1992, p. 38-43
EPA Guidance for Controlling Asbestos-Containing Materials in buildings, NIAST, National Institute on Abatement Sciences & Technology, [republishing EPA public documents] 1985 ed., Exposure Evaluation Division, Office of Toxic Substances, Office of Pesticides and Toxic Substances, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, Washington,D.C. 20460
Books & Articles on Building & Environmental Inspection, Testing, Diagnosis, & Repair
The Home Reference Book - the Encyclopedia of Homes, Carson Dunlop & Associates, Toronto, Ontario, 25th Ed., 2012, is a bound volume of more than 450 illustrated pages that assist home inspectors and home owners in the inspection and detection of problems on buildings. The text is intended as a reference guide to help building owners operate and maintain their home effectively. Field inspection worksheets are included at the back of the volume. Special Offer: For a 10% discount on any number of copies of the Home Reference Book purchased as a single order. Enter INSPECTAHRB in the order payment page "Promo/Redemption" space. InspectAPedia.com editor Daniel Friedman is a contributing author.
Or choose the The Home Reference eBook for PCs, Macs, Kindle, iPad, iPhone, or Android Smart Phones. Special Offer: For a 5% discount on any number of copies of the Home Reference eBook purchased as a single order. Enter INSPECTAEHRB in the order payment page "Promo/Redemption" space.