The Homeowners Guide to Asbestos

What is asbestos?
Asbestos refers to a group of six types of naturally occurring minerals. Asbestos minerals are composed of fine, durable fibers which are odorless and tasteless. One of the properties of these fibers is that they are resistant to heat, fire and many chemicals. Because of these properties, asbestos became an important component of many manufactured items, including those in the automobile and construction industries. Today in the United States, asbestos is still used to manufacture such things as automotive brake pads and gaskets, roofing products and fireproof clothing.

Why is asbestos a hazard?
Asbestos is classified as a human carcinogen (cancer-causing agent). When materials containing asbestos are disrupted they release the microscopic fibers into the air. When inhaled, these fibers can become trapped in the lung tissue. Once trapped, the presence of these fibers can cause inflammation, scarring and other processes that can lead to lung damage. Three of the major health problems associated with Asbestos exposure are:

  • lung cancer
  • mesothelioma – a rare form of cancer that is found in the thin lining around the lung, chest, heart and abdomen
  • asbestosis – a progressive, degenerative disease of the lungs

How to protect yourself and your family from asbestos exposure?
There is no known safe level of asbestos exposure. Asbestos fibers can become a health risk when they are airborne so it is important to not disturb material which may release fibers into the air. The safe removal of asbestos-containing material requires knowledge of proper removal procedures and specialized equipment. Monitoring and testing of the air in the removal space is critical to ensuring workers and other occupants of the structure are protected.

When should you test for asbestos?
Asbestos can be found in many home, commercial and industrial building materials. Whenever you are remodeling, renovating, repairing, demolishing or otherwise disturbing any part of a house, garage, commercial or industrial structure, an asbestos survey by a licensed asbestos inspector should be performed. A licensed asbestos inspector will identify materials suspected of containing asbestos. The only way to know with certainty if asbestos is present in a material is to have it tested in a laboratory. Some building materials which may contain asbestos:

Asbestos Surveys and Inspections

When is an asbestos survey by a licensed asbestos contractor required?
Part 56 of Title 12 of the Official Compilation of Codes, Rules and Regulations of the State of New York states that an asbestos survey is required to determine whether or not a building or structure, or portions thereof to be demolished, renovated, remodeled, or have repair work, contains asbestos-containing material, presumed asbestos-containing material, or asbestos

Paradigm Asbestos Surveys and Inspections
Paradigm provides visual inspections and building surveys in accordance with the professional standards set forth in Part 56 of Title 12 of the Official Compilation of Codes, Rules and Regulations of the State of New York. Our licensed and certified inspectors are trained to identify any suspect asbestos-containing material which may be present in your industrial facility, commercial building, or residential property.

Our inspectors complete a comprehensive visual inspection and a thorough assessment of all areas in questions. We will advise on how best to handle any suspected asbestos-containing material. Building surveys may include taking representative samples of suspect materials and having those samples undergo detailed examination in a laboratory certified in asbestos analysis. Upon completion, you will receive a formal written report detailing the survey results and all laboratory findings.

Project Design
Our licensed and certified asbestos inspectors will assess a structure that is suspected of harboring asbestos. The inspector will then determine how any asbestos abatement work will be conducted, prepare the plans, designs, procedures, scope of work, and any other direction necessary for the abatement project

Project Monitoring
Our licensed and certified asbestos project monitors function as on-site Paradigm representatives and over-see the activities of the asbestos abatement contractor.

Asbestos Sampling
Items or materials that may contain asbestos cannot be identified simply by looking at them. The only way to confirm the presence of asbestos is by having those samples undergo detailed examination in a laboratory certified in asbestos analysis. If asbestos is suspected, the safest approach is to treat the material as if it does contain asbestos.

Air Monitoring
Indoor air monitoring must be performed during every asbestos-related work project. Air sampling must be performed during work area preparation if asbestos materials will be disturbed during preparation.