What is asbestos and why do I need to be concerned about it?

Asbestos is a mineral that has been used in more than 3,000 different products over the last 100 years for its insulating, acoustical and fire protective properties. Common products that contain asbestos include pipe insulation, floor and ceiling tile, spray-on insulation, boiler wrap insulation and electrical appliances such as your toaster and hair dryer. Asbestos-containing materials are frequently encountered in a wide range of environments, including but not limited to, industrial and commercial facilities, schools and universities, and residential properties.

Once asbestos fibers become airborne (usually by disturbing the product in which they are contained), they are easily inhaled into the lungs. Once in the lungs, these needle-like fibers can penetrate the lung tissue and the lining that holds the lung in place (pleura). This begins the process which can eventually lead to asbestosis, lung cancer, mesothelioma, or various other diseases.

How do I know if my home or facility contains asbestos?

The only way to know if your home or facility contains asbestos is to have it inspected by a State of Georgia accredited Asbestos Building Inspector. In fact, an asbestos inspection is required for all commercial / industrial buildings built before 1981.

Homeowners are not required to have their homes inspected for asbestos; however, if a contractor is hired for renovation work an asbestos inspection is necessary.

What are some examples of materials that contain asbestos?

Until an asbestos building inspection has been conducted, asbestos is presumed to be present in almost all building materials. This includes, but is not limited to, pipe insulation (including the wrap on fiberglass insulation), spray-on fireproofing, floor tile, ceiling tile, duct wrap, hard and soft plaster, drywall joint compound, ceramic tile bedding compound, glazing and caulks, light reflector paper, mastics, vermiculite insulation (in exterior walls and attics) and roofing materials.

What do I do if my home or facility contains asbestos?

Unless the asbestos material is crumbling and in poor condition, it may be safer to leave it alone as asbestos is only a health hazard if it becomes airborne. If the material is crumbling or deteriorating, or if you are going to renovate, retaining an asbestos removal contractor is recommended for homeowners, and is required for commercial / industrial buildings.

What should I expect from an asbestos abatement contractor?

Regulatory requirements vary based on the type of material, its condition, the quantity involved, and other factors. Most work involving friable asbestos is performed within containment or within a glovebag.

If the work is to exceed 10 linear feet or 15 square feet of friable asbestos-containing materials, a 10 day notification to the State of Georgia Asbestos Program is required prior to removal.