Asbestos is a naturally occurring mineral that is hazardous to human health and is known to cause lung cancer, lung disease, and a type of cancer known as mesothelioma. Because asbestos is extremely durable, sound absorbent, and resistant to fire, it was used for many years in a wide range of consumer products and in different commercial and industrial construction. Although the use of asbestos was essentially halted in the late 1970s in the United States, the mineral can still be found throughout the country, particularly in old homes, factories, or commercial buildings.
Dangerous asbestos fibers can be found in many materials within homes of all ages. This includes vinyl flooring, popcorn ceilings, cement siding, and adhesives. It is extremely important to take steps to guard against potential health risks before starting any remodeling, repair project, or disturbing any materials. While some materials are more likely to contain asbestos than others, you can't identify asbestos simply by looking at it. When asbestos-containing material is disturbed or damaged, it releases tiny fibers into the air that are too small to be filtered by a dust mask. There is no safe threshold of exposure to asbestos. As long as asbestos is not disturbed, damaged or worn, or the material is properly sealed, it is not considered a health hazard. Leave it alone if you can.
Whether you do the work yourself or hire a contractor, be safe: Check! Inspect! Protect!
Treat all suspect materials as if they contain asbestos until you are sure they don’t. Call Southwest Clean Air Agency at 360-574-3058 for advice before you remodel, hire a contractor or attempt to handle asbestos yourself. Information is also available online at swcleanair.org/asbestos.
Depending upon the project and materials, an Asbestos Hazard Emergency Response Act (AHERA) accredited inspector may need to visit your home to inspect for possible asbestos-containing materials. A list of AHERA-accredited building inspectors, along with information on asbestos analytical laboratories, abatement contractors and more can also be found at swcleanair.org/asbestos.
If asbestos-containing material (ACM) is found in a commercial or residential structure, and that material will be disturbed, it must be properly removed before beginning remodeling, repair or demolition. Be prepared to provide test results or a special waste permit with your load at the transfer station. If you don't have the proper paperwork, your load may be turned away. Package disposal items properly, following requirements for asbestos-containing materials. Secure and cover your load. Call Waste Connections/Columbia Resource Company at 360-695-4858 to learn about proper disposal requirements for any materials that may contain asbestos.