Asbestos, The Most Regulated Hazardous Material You Will Encounter:
At AM/PM our goal is to ensure that our clients are aware of the facts and regulations regarding Asbestos, in order to help them avoid health risks, fines and possible litigation. As part of our FAQ section, we have taken the time to provide you with valuable information that could protect you in the future.
Fact: Many people believe that asbestos is a problem of the past and that it was banned in the United States decades ago. The truth is, the use of asbestos has never been banned in the US.
More than 3,000 products that contain asbestos continue to be imported from developing countries, many of which are building materials used in construction today.
Materials including; wall & associated joint compounds, plaster & stucco, vinyl floor tiles, floor sheeting & associated adhesives, roofing tar, felt & mastic, and myriad of others.
Another common misconception regarding asbestos is that only older buildings (built prior to 1980) contain asbestos, providing a false sense of security that newer buildings are free of asbestos, and therefore Asbestos NESHAP (National Emission Standard for Hazardous Air Pollutants) regulations do not apply to those structures. This misconception can prove to be costly, and litigious, not just for the contractor performing the work, but for everyone involved, including:
• Property managers/owners procuring the renovations
• Workers performing repairs/ renovations inside a building
• Tenants who may be exposed to asbestos fibers in the air, as a result of improper demolition of materials containing asbestos
Who Regulates Asbestos?
When is Asbestos Harmful?
Asbestos containing building materials pose no harm to people unless those materials are disturbed and the fibers become airborne. When inhaled, the fibers can remain in the body for years, sometimes even decades, eventually leading to asbestos-related diseases.
Who is Most Likely to Disturb Asbestos?
Workers/trades people carrying out maintenance and repair jobs such as cutting or drilling into walls, ceilings or partitions; home owners and remodeling companies performing repairs on a home, such as roofing, demolition, and restoration companies who are not aware of/don't adhere to NESHAP regulations when removing damaged building materials after a flood, fire, etc.
The commercial building I manage is only 10 years old. Would it fall under Asbestos NESHAP?
In Arizona all public, commercial, industrial buildings, and apartment complexes of four units or more are regulated by Asbestos NESHAP provisions, regardless of when they were built. Whether you are a property manager or a contractor, you must adhere to Asbestos NESHAP Regulations before you begin any renovation project where building materials will be disturbed.
Who's Liable If Asbestos Containing Material Is Disturbed?
Liability resides with the owner/operator of a demolition or renovation project. In cases where a management company acts on behalf of the owner and carries out the renovation project / tenant improvement, the property management is liable as well, and contractors and subcontractors. Whoever is involved with the work that is taking place is involved at that point and may have substantial fines assessed against them if the EPA gets involved.
Best Practices for Property Managers/Building Engineers:
Before conducting any repairs or renovations to a property, it is your legal responsibility to find out if there are asbestos containing materials in the building. If a current asbestos survey (must have been performed within12 months or less) of your property is unavailable, Asbestos NESHAP regulations require all of the parties involved in the renovation project to presume that asbestos is present or confirm its absence through sampling. Samples need to taken by an AHERA Certified Building Inspector, and be sent to a NVLAP laboratory to be analyzed. The results will confirm the absence or presence of asbestos.
If you opt to presume, any subsequent work should be carried out with full asbestos abatement and safety precautions, preferably by a certified asbestos abatement professional.
Contractors and Trades:
If you are a contractor, the first step before beginning a renovation/demolition project is to ask the property manager, owner or the GC you are working for, for a current asbestos survey of the property, in order to in order to avoid disturbing asbestos containing materials. You must protect your workers from a known hazard and avoid the fines that will be imposed on all parties involved, including your client, if asbestos is discovered in the materials you disturbed.
AM/PM's Follows NESHAP and OSHA Regulations When Performing Emergency Services:
In our company, we have an AHERA Certified Building Inspector on staff. In response to meeting NESHAP/OSHA Regulations, our protocol requires that he take the appropriate samples in the affected areas, where we intend to remove and replace water, fire, or mold damaged structural materials. This will be done every time we perform emergency services for your company where demolition is required. We will take the necessary precautions to cover all of us, and limit our exposure to liability; as well as ensure the environmental safety of your clients and our technicians as it relates to the project. In addition, you will receive the test results for your records and to refer them when conducting future renovations.
Will the mitigation of the damage in my building, after a flood, fire or other catastrophe, be deferred until the asbestos samples come back from the lab?
Absolutely not. Our certified technicians will start the mitigation of the damage immediately. Meanwhile, our AHERA Certified Building Inspector will collect the appropriate samples and send them to a certified independent laboratory, to confirm or deny the presence of asbestos, before removing/disturbing any structural materials. While waiting for the results from the lab, we will perform all of the required mitigation procedures, stabilize the situation and safeguard your property. Once the results are in (a few hours turnaround time) we will proceed accordingly.
What About Residential Properties?
Single Private Residences are not regulated by Asbestos NESHAP. However, AM/PM is required to follow OSHA regulations, which require us to protect our workers at all times from any known hazards, including asbestos. Therefore, when we respond to a flood or a fire in your home, we will take the appropriate samples and send them to a certified independent laboratory, to confirm or deny the presence of asbestos, before removing/disturbing any structural materials. While waiting for the results from the lab, we will perform all of the required mitigation procedures, stabilize the situation and safeguard your property. Once the results are in (a few hours turnaround time) we will proceed accordingly.
It is important to note that two or more residential houses on one property, such as a home and a guest house, they would fall under the Asbestos NESHAP program.
If you're interested in learning more about asbestos, please call our office at 602-862-9307 and ask to schedule a Lunch and Learn for your office. We will be happy to come into your management/service meetings to provide further explanation for these regulations.
If you would like to learn more about our Professional Asbestos Abatement Services, or hire our firm to perform asbestos abatement at your property, please click on the hyperlink above.
For more information on Asbestos NESHAP Regulations, you can visit the asbestos program's website HERE
Asbestos NESHAP - National Emissions Standards for Hazardous Air Pollutants EPA – Environmental Protection Agency promulgated the Asbestos NESHAP regulations in 1990 and they have delegated the State and County municipalities to enforce those regulations in AZ.
OSHA - Occupational Safety and Health Administration
AHERA - Asbestos Hazard Emergency Response Act, AHERA applies to the schools
Owner/Operator of a demolition or renovation (this means any person who owns, leases, operates, controls or supervises the facility being demolished or renovated, or any person that owns, leases, operates or controls the demolition or renovation operation, or both.