Asbestos and Its Management in Commercial buildings
Asbestos is a common environmental hazard in commercial buildings, especially those built before 1980. It’s a naturally occurring mineral that is composed of heat-resisting fibers. They were widely used by manufacturers in infrastructures due to their appealing properties such as low thermal or chemical conductivity, fire resistance, strength, durability in wear and tear, and inexpensiveness to the producers. Be it cloth, plastics, ire-retardant coatings, concrete, bricks, pipes, cement, heat-, fire-, and acid-resistant gaskets, pipe insulation, ceiling insulation, fireproof drywall, flooring, hence they were used in nearly everything that one could think of related to construction and infrastructures. But in the late 20th century certain researches were conducted as their wide consumption and extensive mining resulted in horrendous outcomes. People who were more exposed to asbestos fibers started developing chronic lung diseases/cancers which turned out to be fatal.
Three of the major adverse health effects associated with these fibers includes:
- AsbestosisLung Cancer
ASBESTOS AND ADVERSE EFFECTS OF ITS LONG-TERM EXPOSURE:
These illnesses were the result of prolonged exposure to asbestos fibers. They were initially known to impact workers who were involved in building trades, industrial mining, and the processing of products containing Asbestos. But it didn’t just stop there, the building occupants were regarded as a serious health risk due to the potential exposure because of the continued wear and tear of the material in the long run including deadly cancer as mesothelioma.
ASBESTOS CONTAINING BUILDING MATERIALS (ACBMs) AND THEIR MANAGEMENT:
Major steps were taken in order to properly identify and manage the ACBMs, under the Clean Air Act.
These regulations mainly include:
- Specific work practices to minimize the release of fibers during home renovations and buildings’ remodelling.
- A thorough inspection was to be carried out before the renovation
- A state-issued notification before the demolition of a commercial building.
As the majority of ACBMs are NON-FRIABLE, that is, it isn’t a piece of cake to crush or manipulate the façade to render the fibers from becoming airborne.
As the materials are actively used in:
- Floor coverings
- Floor tiles
- Construction adhesives etc.
Therefore it is rather difficult to not cause any damage or not leave any residue behind after the remodeling has been finished. The only ACBMs that can be tackled with ease are the ones used in:
- Boiler insulation
- Duct insulation
- Pipe insulation
As a matter of fact, friable or non-friable, these ACBMs do not present any health hazard if left undisturbed or undamaged.
PROPER MANAGEMENT OF ACBMs
In order to manage or abate the edifices containing ACBMs, an accredited and licensed asbestos inspector is required to perform recommended identification methods.
“ACBMs can EASILY be managed in place by drafting and implementing an Asbestos Operations and Maintenance Plan (O&M Plan), which identifies the type, location and condition of all ACBMs.”
The Asbestos O&M Plan should be accessible for professionals regarding any activity being performed on a building as they will make sure the necessary safety measures so that abatement wouldn’t result in the self-exposure to the likely hazard for the inspectors themselves. Varying costs are charged for O&M Plan depending on the building size and amount of identified ACBMs.
But there are other methods to make the ACBM management process a little more cost-effective.
This method involves:
- Indulging an experienced third-party consultant to develop an effective design,
- Solicit competitive bids and
- Conduct ACBM removal performed by contractors
Post abatement tasks are very important in cases like these. Air sampling must be drawn prior to the building re-occupancy.
An unbiased and impartial management of asbestos is important. A competent, accredited, and experienced third-party asbestos consultant is recommended who is wholly and solely unrelated to the company performing the actual process.