At one time, asbestos was considered a wonder. A naturally occurring mineral, asbestos was renowned for its physical properties. Long, fibrous, and resilient in nature, products made with asbestos were stronger and lasted longer. They were useful as insulators and fireproofing materials. The fibers were even used in cigarette filters, and as artificial ‘snow’, as used in movies such as The Wizard of Oz and Holiday Inn.
Unfortunately, the same physical properties that made it a wonderful building material also made it a real health hazard. Microscopic asbestos fibers can become airborne during the renovation or demolition of building materials and can remain in the air for days. If inhaled, the fibers from asbestos accumulate in the lung. Strong, fibrous, and resilient, the asbestos cannot be removed by the natural defenses of the human body. Over time they result in decreased lung function and have been identified as a cancer causing agent. A common diagnosis of asbestos exposure is pleural mesothelioma – a cancer within the lining of the lung.
The use of asbestos in building products was never officially banned, but decreased significantly since about 1978 due to prevalent lawsuits. The use of the product is now regulated by the US EPA. The first regulations were targeted at schools, and were later expanded to include other government and commercial buildings. Today the law requires the sampling of building materials prior to building demolition or renovation. Building materials containing greater than one percent asbestos are regulated. Only private single-home residences are exempt from asbestos regulations. Both the US EPA and OSHA say that there is no safe exposure level for asbestos.
When considering a renovation or demolition project, it is important to protect the physical health of the employees, customers, and construction workers that may come into contact with regulated building materials. ReDevelopInc. understands that any sampling activity can be anxiety producing, and will discretely assess the materials in your commercial property and provide a detailed quantitative survey. If present, ReDevelopInc. can provide a cost estimate, oversight, and reporting for asbestos mitigation.