DIY Asbestos Abatement: Know the Risks and When to Call a Professional

Created on:

August 8, 2023

Asbestos, a naturally occurring fibrous material, was once widely used in building materials because of its strength, fire resistance, and insulating properties. However, it's now a known carcinogen, and its discovery in older homes and buildings present serious health risks if disturbed. In this blog post, we explore the risks and dangers of DIY asbestos abatement and discuss when it's best to call a professional for the job.

The Risks and Dangers of DIY Asbestos Abatement

The Health Risks

Asbestos fibers are incredibly hazardous when inhaled, leading to various respiratory illnesses and cancers over time. The most common asbestos-related complications include asbestosis (a chronic lung disease), lung cancer, and mesothelioma, which is a rare cancer affecting the lining of the lungs, abdomen, or heart. The severity of these health issues depends on factors such as the length and concentration of asbestos exposure, but the risk is always present when handling the material without proper precautions.

The Safety Challenges

Specialized equipment, tools, and knowledge are required to effectively and safely remove asbestos. Unfortunately, most homeowners lack these resources, making DIY asbestos abatement a very risky endeavor. Inexperienced individuals may inadvertently release asbestos fibers into the air, spreading them throughout the home and contaminating the heating and cooling systems. Moreover, improper disposal of asbestos-containing materials (ACMs) lead to further contamination and significant ecological damage.

The Legal Challenges

Numerous legal regulations and guidelines govern asbestos removal and disposal, varying from one jurisdiction to another. These regulations aim to protect public health and the environment from the dangers of improperly handled asbestos. Failure to adhere to these guidelines result in costly fines and severe legal consequences. Homeowners attempting DIY asbestos abatement may accidentally breach these laws, leading to further complications.

Recognizing When to Call a Professional

Unidentified Materials

It is difficult for the average homeowner to identify asbestos-containing materials, making it crucial to call a professional when in doubt. Although certain products historically contained asbestos, such as floor tiles, insulation, and roofing materials, this isn’t a definitive rule. Due to the potential hazards, if you're unsure whether a material contains asbestos, it’s best to have it tested by a specialized asbestos testing professional before proceeding with any removal or renovations.

Material is Damaged or Disturbed

Asbestos fibers are most dangerous when the material is disturbed or damaged, releasing the fibers into the air where they are inhaled. If you find asbestos-containing materials that are damaged, cracked, or otherwise deteriorated, it's imperative to call a professional for proper abatement. Similarly, if you plan to perform renovations or repairs in an area containing asbestos, a professional should remove the material to prevent harmful exposure.

Improper Tools/Protective Equipment

One must use the appropriate tools and personal protective equipment (PPE) when working with asbestos, including disposable coveralls, a well-fitting respirator with appropriate filters, and gloves. Without proper PPE, you increase your risk of dangerous asbestos exposure. If you lack the necessary equipment or knowledge about the proper handling and disposal techniques, calling a professional asbestos abatement team is the safest course of action.

The health risks involved in asbestos exposure highlight the importance of prioritizing safety during abatement. While DIY projects are appealing for their cost-saving potential, the potential damage to your health and the surrounding environment from improper asbestos handling is not worth the risk. It's always best to err on the side of caution and call a professional when faced with asbestos removal situations.

Protecting yourself from the potential hazards of asbestos exposure is key to maintaining a safe and healthy living environment for yourself and your loved ones. So, when in doubt, leave it to the professionals to ensure the job is done right.

all Articles