Healthy Building Science provides asbestos inspections and surveys for commercial offices, homes and industrial and institutional buildings of any size. An Asbestos Survey generally includes asbestos testing to identify existing asbestos materials.
Some common sources of Asbestos Containing Materials (ACM) include, but are not limited to:
- Vapor barriers on or behind walls, ceilings, floors, or fixtures
- Piping and boiler insulation
- Heating system components
- Electrical: knob and tube wiring, fuse box insulation
- Vinyl floor tile and underlying mastic or vinyl sheet flooring and backing
- Linoleum flooring
- Leveling compound, carpet glue or grout and mortar associated with ceramic tile
- Baseboard and associated glues
- Wallboard/drywall/sheet rock with joint or taping compound or wall and ceiling plasters
- Interior wall texture
- Acoustical ceiling tiles and ceiling tile glue commonly referred to as “Popcorn Ceiling” tile
- Sprayed acoustical ceiling texture
- Window putty, exterior paints and waterproofing
- Exterior Stucco and exterior transite siding (cementitious panels)
- Roofing components including shingles, tars, papers, felts, and mastics
Asbestos Inspection Regulations
Asbestos assessment services must comply with applicable regulations including:
- General and Construction Industry Asbestos Standard
- National Emission Standard for Hazardous Air Pollutants (NESHAPS)
- Asbestos Hazard Emergency Response Act (AHERA)
- EPA Laws and Asbestos Regulations and local air pollution control district rules and regulations
According to most readings of the NESHAPS asbestos rules, there is no end date for asbestos testing depending on the time of construction. That means that ANY renovation project involving demolition should have an asbestos consultant perform an asbestos inspection.
Asbestos Health Effects:
There is much research regarding the health risks of asbestos.
To minimize exposure to asbestos, avoid disturbing the material and always use certified asbestos professionals for testing suspect materials, and removing asbestos-containing materials.
Asbestos is only completely banned in certain building materials, and asbestos is found in materials from buildings built in the 21st century. Depending on the type of building, an asbestos inspection may be required for demolition or renovation activities regardless of the original construction date.
Property owners and general contractors need to be in the compliance with the Cal/OSHA Asbestos construction standard. This essentially means that you must assume all suspect materials contain asbestos – unless proven otherwise. It’s best to hire an asbestos consultant to perform an asbestos assessment and determine there is any asbestos.
General Contractor Clause Regarding Asbestos
Because asbestos abatement and removal may significantly increase the cost of demolition on a project, contractors and builders often include a clause in their contract such as:
“Any new conditions, such as asbestos discovered mid-project, will trigger a “claim” or “extra” negotiation between the contractor and the owner.”
Reading between the lines this equates to a “Change Order” and possibly, considerable extra expense, that comes as a surprise mid-way through a construction project. The best way to protect the building owner from this potential expense (and asbestos exposure) is to perform an asbestos survey in advance of construction.
California contractors are advised, “if you discover asbestos in the middle of a project, stop work in the area immediately!”
Asbestos Assessment Basics
Because asbestos material testing requires a physical sample it is, by definition, destructive sampling. It is prudent to sample only those materials being impacted by an upcoming remodel, or testing materials that have already been damaged. Often the safest course is to avoid disturbing suspected asbestos-containing materials.
Asbestos air sampling does not definitively tell whether there is asbestos in building materials. Only sampling the material itself and analysis by an accredited laboratory can provide that answer. Air sampling may be useful if there is general concern about asbestos in the air or a suspicion that asbestos work may have been performed. Asbestos air testing should be performed after any known removal of asbestos materials and before re-occupancy.
Healthy Building Science can provide expert asbestos testing services in suspected trouble spots, during abatement, and for asbestos clearance after abatement. Initial asbestos air testing can help identify if there is indeed asbestos in the ambient air. Air monitoring during demolition or abatement is a common cost saving and risk reduction strategy. Air testing is often provided after asbestos abatement projects as part of the final inspection (clearance) of the abatement.
Air & Bulk Testing for Asbestos may include:
- Asbestos- Phase Contrast Microscopy (PCM) NIOSH 7400
- Asbestos- Transmission Electron Microscopy (TEM) AHERA, Yamate II, or NIOSH 7402
- Asbestos- Polarized Light Microscopy (PLM)
Your industrial hygienist will determine which of the above methods is permissible for your specific project. Depending on the building type, anticipated construction work, type and condition of building materials, etc., your asbestos expert will determine what to test, where to test, and what sort of asbestos lab analysis to request.
EPA Reference for Asbestos Containing Materials
Asbestos may be in any composite materials. Here is an abbreviated, incomplete list of materials with asbestos:
- asbestos-containing flooring and mastic
- asbestos-containing roofing materials
- asbestos-containing vermiculite
- paint that contains asbestos
- asbestos in plaster and wall systems
- transite siding and similar materials
- window caulk, glazing compound, wiring and other similar materials
Requirements for Asbestos Consultant
In California any asbestos consultant must hold one of the following certificates:
- Asbestos Building Inspector
- Asbestos Contractor/Supervisor
- Asbestos Project Designer
- Asbestos Management Planner
- Asbestos Site Surveillance Technicians
California Asbestos Regulations
For industrial hygienists and asbestos contractors, there are several regulatory agencies overseeing the safe identification of asbestos hazards, asbestos abatement, demolition and transportation of hazardous waste. Each of these actions is regulated by a different agency with unique regulatory requirements, and often regulations overlap.
As an example, NESHAP Practice Standards consider an “asbestos-containing material” (ACM) anything with greater than 1% asbestos content. CAL/OSHA Practice Standards apply to any material with a concentration greater 0.1% and with a surface area of 100 square feet (>100 sf) or more. The California Contractors State License Board (CSLB) defines the allowable work area as any material containing asbestos with greater than 100 sf.
100 Square Foot Loophole for Asbestos
The 100 square foot asbestos loophole has been widely misunderstood and overused adding confusion to building owners, occupants, and contractors. According to the CSLB, “no one may do abatement or other asbestos-related work of 100 square feet or more without special certification/license and DOSH registration. Furthermore, even in cases where there are less than 100 square feet of asbestos to be removed, DOSH training and reporting is still required.”
Why was Asbestos Used in Building Materials?
Asbestos was first used in the United States, in the early 1900s mainly on steam pipes for thermal insulation and fireproofing, but was not used extensively until the 1940s. Asbestos was primarily used for fireproofing, insulation, soundproofing and decorative applications. Asbestos fibers are unique and their unique properties have made them desirable in many different building materials. Today, there are over 3000 building products that contain asbestos.
What makes Asbestos so dangerous?
It was well-known thousands of years ago that those who worked in the asbestos mines suffered from “sickness of the lungs” and died at an early age. Asbestos has been classified as a human carcinogen by the EPA because research has proven it to be the cause of several debilitating diseases such as asbestosis, lung cancer, mesothelioma, and gastrointestinal cancer to name a few. Disease typically manifests between 10 to 40 years after initial exposure to asbestos.
Asbestos Survey Sample Projects:
- Asbestos testing Sacramento office buildings
- Asbestos testing a San Jose home pre-demolition
- Asbestos abatement Bay Area monitoring projects
- Asbestos removal oversight in Sacramento
- Asbestos testing a San Francisco multi-family affordable housing
- Asbestos testing Oakland medical offices
- Asbestos consultant for a Santa Rosa soil test
- Asbestos testing a Berkeley condominium
- Pre-demolition asbestos testing for a San Rafael home
Asbestos Inspections for San Francisco Bay Area
Healthy Building Science is an environmental consulting firm which provides asbestos surveys and inspection, asbestos testing , expert industrial hygiene and environmental testing for multi-family building, commercial offices, industrial and manufacturing workplaces, hospitals and medical facilities, schools and even single-family homes in the greater San Francisco Bay Area and all of Northern California including the cities of San Francisco, San Jose, Oakland, Sacramento, Santa Rosa, Hayward, Sunnyvale, Fremont, Concord, Salinas, Santa Clara, Berkeley, Vallejo, Fairfield, Antioch, Richmond, Daly City, San Rafael, San Mateo, Vacaville, San Leandro, Livermore and Alameda County, Contra Costa County, Marin County, Napa County, San Mateo County, Santa Clara County, Solano County and Sonoma County.