Asbestos Containing Building Materials
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Asbestos-containing material became a high profile public concern after federal legislation known as AHERA (Asbestos Hazard Emergency Response Act) was enacted in 1987. AHERA requires that all schools be inspected for asbestos-containing building materials, and that appropriate management plans be developed. As a result, many real estate buyers are now concerned about the risks of asbestos containing building materials.
It is known that asbestos fibers increase the risk of lung cancer and other respiratory diseases. If the asbestos-containing material is damaged and friable (meaning it crumbles under hand pressure) then it is advisable to have the asbestos-containing material abated. If the asbestos-containing material is not friable (for example, vinyl asbestos floor tiles or asbestos-shingle siding) or is friable but undamaged, then the EPA currently recommends that you leave the asbestos-containing material alone.
Abatement of asbestos-containing material means that is should be repaired, removed, enclosed, or included in an Operations and Maintenance plan. Repair, removal, or enclosure of asbestos-containing material should only be performed by trained and licensed asbestos abatement contractors. A general contractor's license is not sufficient. Asbestos abatement contractors have to be specifically trained in asbestos handling and disposal procedures.
EPA Facts About Asbestos
The EPA includes the following five facts in their book: Managing Asbestos in Place • A Building Owner's Guide to Operations and Maintenance Programs for Asbestos-Containing Materials.
Note that this is an excerpt, and you should read the whole book before drawing conclusions.
- Fact one: Although asbestos is hazardous, the risk of asbestos-related disease depends upon exposure to airborne asbestos. In other words, an individual must breathe asbestos fibers in order to incur any chance of developing an asbestos-related disease. How many fibers a person must breathe to develop disease is uncertain. However, at very low exposure levels, the risk may be negligible or zero.
- Fact two: Based on available data, the average airborne asbestos levels in buildings seem to be very low. Accordingly, the health risk to most building occupants also appears to be very low.
- Fact three: Removal is often not a building owner's best course of action to reduce asbestos exposure. In fact, an improper removal can create a dangerous situation where none previously existed. By their nature, asbestos removals tend to elevate the airborne level of asbestos fibers. Unless safeguards are properly applied, a removal operation can actually increase rather than decrease the risk of asbestos related disease
- Fact four: EPA only requires asbestos removal in order to prevent significant public exposure to airborne asbestos fibers during building demolition or renovation projects.
- Fact five: EPA and OSHA recommend a proactive, in-place management program whenever asbestos-containing material is discovered. Management of asbestos in-place means having a program to ensure that the day-to-day management of the building minimizes release of asbestos fibers into the air, and ensures that if asbestos fibers are released, either accidentally or intentionally, proper control and cleanup procedures are implemented.
For information on asbestos-containing building materials, visit the EPA asbestos website or the EPA Asbestos and indoor air quality website.
To conclusively identify the material, it is necessary to take samples and send them for laboratory analysis. If you need an in-depth investigation of the asbestos conditions at your site, contact a firm specializing in asbestos investigations.
Pre-purchase inspection standards specifically exclude asbestos inspection, except for pointing out suspect asbestos to a client under certain circumstances. Heimer Engineering's pre-purchase inspections do not include asbestos testing. Heimer Engineering's Professional Engineers advise you of visibly detectable suspect asbestos, just as other Home Inspectors do. Heimer Engineering does not misrepresent this as an asbestos inspection. Asbestos testing should be performed by an experienced and properly licensed and insured Environmental Testing firm with experience in asbestos testing.
Contact Heimer Engineering 24/7
We are happy to help you. To set up an appointment for a pre-purchase inspection, or to find out about Engineering services or expert court testimony, click below for a contact form, send us an email, text us at 6602 0091 55, or call 800.605.1500. If no staff member is in the office, leave a message. Remember to ask about a web discount.
Heimer Engineering serves the Metro New York area, including New York City (Manhattan, Queens, Brooklyn, Bronx, Staten Island), Long Island (Nassau County, Suffolk County), and Upstate New York (Rockland County, Putnam County, and Westchester County).
Heimer Engineering respects your privacy. Some inspection firms share information with insurance, landscaping, home maintenance, moving, cable, mortgage, and other companies. Some inspection firms sell their client lists. These practices are unethical. You will not receive phone calls or solicitation emails from third parties as a result of providing personal information.
In the event of a life-threatening emergency (fire, building in danger of collapse, facade with loose bricks, debris falling from a building, gas leak, etc.) do not call Heimer Engineering. If there is a life-threatening emergency or other hazardous condition, call 911. Emergency situations need to be handled immediately by first-responders who can evacuate buildings, have utilities shut off, and take other steps necessary to preserve life.
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Heimer Engineering performs home inspections, building inspections, condominium inspections, and co-op inspections in the State of New York. We do not perform inspections or recommend Inspectors or Engineers in the areas outside of the State of New York. We also provide Licensed Professional Engineer consultation services including hurricane and storm damage and damage from adjoining construction. Expert witness services are provided regarding playground injuries, parking lot, walkway, and stairway slip, trip, and fall.
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2171 Jericho Turnpike, Suite 230
Commack, New York, USA 11725-2947
New York Metro Area: 800.605.1500
Bronx, New York: 718.547.2000
Brooklyn, New York: 718.237.7777
Manhattan, New York: 212.563.4777
Nassau County, New York: 516.487.2100
Putnam County, New York: 845.638.4900
Queens, New York: 718.544.3000
Staten Island, New York: 718.227.5000
Suffolk County, New York: 631.858.5500, 631.549.2500, 631.288.3900
Westchester County, New York: 914.576.6100
Fax: 631.858.5599, 646.795.4571
Coordinates: 40.8439215, -73.2871259
International Standard of Industrial Classification of All Economic Activities (ISIC) Revision 4 Classification: 71
North American Industry Classification System (SAISC) Classification: 541330, 541350