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Asbestos in the home

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Asbestos in the home

By: Michael Del Greco, New Jersey Home Inspector
Asbestos in the home

Submitted by: Michael Del Greco, New Jersey Home Inspector Lic GI 0121, President of Accurate Inspections, Inc, a New Jersey home inspection company

Asbestos is a mineral that has excellent binding qualities. It is a long-lasting, dependable material that is not soluble in water and has been used successfully in building products, components and insulations for many decades.


In the 1960s, concerns surfaced about asbestos and its relationship to some cancers. Workers in some industries as well as miners were developing cancers caused by asbestos in the air they were breathing. These cancers affect the lungs and respiratory system. Public awareness evolved from testing in public and commercial buildings, schools and hospitals to testing in homes.


Once it was determined that asbestos could have a negative impact on the health of people who are exposed, the production of asbestos was banned for use as building materials, insulation, etc. Production of asbestos ceased in 1973 and its installation was banned after 1978.


Typical uses and locations found in homes are:

1) Insulation: Rockwool insulation is found mostly in attics and sometimes in walls. Ovens, ranges, toasters, dishwashers, heating pipes, ducts, boilers and furnaces would typically have insulations that contain asbestos during the years from about 1910-1975.


2) Building materials: Asbestos in cement siding and roofing were very common in the 1940s and \'50s. Transite ductwork was used below concrete floor slabs, as chimney flues and as 1/4\" thick sheets for fire protection. Vinyl: Asbestos floor tiles were the tiles of choice from 1930 to 1970. Ceiling tiles and some spray-on textured or popcorn ceilings have asbestos containing material (ACM). It is not likely that you will find asbestos in a home that was built after 1978.


Mitigation occurs in two forms: removal and encapsulation. The presence and type of ACM can only be determined by analysis under a microscope. It cannot be determined visually.


The mitigation process is very specific and the cost is not much higher for removal than it is for encapsulation.


Removal requires the following:

1) Prepare the area with positive airflow to the exterior to capture and discharge airborne particles to the exterior. Small asbestos particles can remain airborne for days in still air.


2) Wet down the ACM as well as adjacent areas of concern, such as the floor.


3) Isolate the areas and the ACM. This is typically accomplished by building a plastic tent around part of the subject area. The tent is moved to isolate other areas with ACM as needed.


4) A proper respirator should be worn to capture the smaller ACM particles. Goggles and disposable coveralls should also be worn.


5) Removed ACM is captured in bags, transported in trucks designed for this use, and disposed of at designated hazardous waste locations.


6) The mitigator removes coveralls and then showers in a plastic tent in the mitigation area.


7) Air testing is performed after removal and clean-ups to determine if there are asbestos particles in the air.

The cost for removal or encapsulation is specific to the contractor.
Buying a home in New Jersey? www.NewJerseyHomeInspection.com has a listing of home inspectors in all counties of new Jersey. New Jersey Home Inspections are performed by the author of this artical Michael Del Greco in Bergen, Essex, Morris and Passaic Counties.

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