Q: What can I do if I suspect that the asbestos abatement in my building may have been conducted improperly?
A: What you should do will depend on the kind and amount of asbestos containing material that was on your property, where the material was located in the building and what other work has occurred in the building since the abatement was conducted. You need to think about the following factors collectively when trying to decide what you should do next.
Q: What kind of asbestos containing material was abated?
A: Asbestos containing materials become a health risk when they break up or crumble and release asbestos fibers into the air. (Flaking or loose and fragmented asbestos containing materials are called “friable.”) The more tightly the material holds together, the less chance there is for the release of asbestos fibers. Materials like roofing shingles or floor tiles will release fewer fibers during abatement than pipe insulation or sprayed on asbestos that has to be scraped off structures. Therefore, the kind of material that was abated and the condition of that material are the most important factors in deciding what problems may exist in your building or home. Also, for any given material, the larger the quantity of that material abated, the greater the potential for increasing fiber release.
Q: Where did the abatement occur?
A: The factor to consider is the opportunity for building occupants to become exposed to asbestos fibers that may have been released during the abatement. Did the abatement occur in an area that is regularly occupied or in an area infrequently visited? Another important consideration would be the potential for asbestos fibers generated during the abatement to enter the air handling system. Any activity that occurred in or near air handling systems has the potential to spread asbestos fibers to other parts of the building.
Q: What has occurred in the building since the abatement?
A: Normal cleaning by wet mopping and washing could reduce the chances that asbestos fibers that might have been released during abatement are still present. For example, abatement that occurred in an area of the building that was subsequently cleaned over most surfaces is less likely to have levels of asbestos fibers that would be a concern.
Building owners need to consider all of these factors to decide if additional actions are necessary. For example, an abatement that occurred in one area of a building where occupants rarely go, or of materials that stay largely intact like floor tile, would pose a lower risk than an abatement of friable materials in regularly occupied areas. An abatement of a small amount of friable asbestos containing material in an area that is regularly wet mopped may not be a substantial concern. However, improper abatement of friable asbestos in an air handling system would be a serious concern that should be carefully evaluated.