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Sueanne_Tremendous's avatar

Identifying Asbestos?

Asked by Sueanne_Tremendous (11256points) October 10th, 2008

Do you have a resource that would help in identifying asbestos? I have some remodeling I want to do in one of my older buildings (1898) and before I call in an expert I want to see if I can identify what is and isn’t asbestos. My fear is that if I call an expert 1) It will be expensive and 2) it might open a can of worms. I’ve looked for a resource on-line but nothing seems definitive. Is there a way to identify asbestos? My main concern is some brown fiber board that they used in re-muddling one of my store fronts. I want to take it down along with all of the walls they put up so I can have an open space. I would do the work myself, but I don’t want to get into trouble with authorities or with the asbestos itself. Anyone have any experience in this area?

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10 Answers

Mr_M's avatar

Yes! Do NOT mess with asbestos!! When it comes to dealing with it, you pretty much HAVE to go with licensed professionals (and don’t get me wrong. Some of those “professionals” make you wonder how much they REALLY know, but, that’s life).

First of all, NEVER shake or agitate sources of asbestos. I worked in a place where the mere pulling of the high tech computer cables through the asbestos lined ceilings of the aged building caused the telecom workers to WALK OFF THE JOB until it was abated! It’s that agitation that causes the asbestos to go through the air and cause the lung problems for yourself or others – for YEARS! You and your staff would be in danger for YEARS unless it’s handled properly. Unless you get a professional in to deal with it, every “Tom, Dick and Harry” that coughs will sue you saying that you mishandled it. If you have the professionals handle it (and get the appropriate papers from them) you can defer the lawsuits somewhat.

My advice – DON’T EVEN go looking for it. Get the professionals.

Sueanne_Tremendous's avatar

@MrM: Thanks for the information. What I am looking for is some way to identify the material that I am faced with without calling a pro first. If it isn’t asbestos then I can move forward. If it is then I can stop working and put everything back into place. This space I am working in is vacant but I do not want to disturb potential asbestos.

Mr_M's avatar

It would be like looking on the net to find out what a cancerous mole looks like in order to avoid paying a doctor.

Mr_M's avatar

Remember! Your OWN health can be jeopardized.

Sueanne_Tremendous's avatar

Good point. However, there has to be some definitive way to identify asbestos by looking at it and not sending it to a lab. After all, it’s a man made material. I can take a course for $600 to become an asbestos inspector. Might be the best course of action…

Mr_M's avatar

Personally, I’d get someone in.

augustlan's avatar

I don’t think there is a way to identify it by sight. It is inside many different products made in the past. Flooring, siding, ceiling panels, even metal paint can contain it! The inspections are ridiculously expensive, and removal (or abatement) even more so. I wish I had some better news for you.

Harp's avatar

Yeah, I have to concur that identification is out of the reach of us laymen. Here’s what’s involved:

“The analysis of Bulk Building Materials for asbestos content is primarily conducted by PLM, and to a lesser degree by XRD, SEM and TEM.

As stated above, Polarized Light Microscopy (PLM) is the technique most often employed for the analysis of bulk building materials. The light microscopy technique utilizes the unique features of polarized light to observe mineral specific optical properties. In this manner, PLM can differentiate asbestos from non-asbestos fibers and further classify the various species that compose the asbestos mineral family. Moreover, the technique records the identity of the non-asbestos fibrous component of each bulk building material sample.”
(source)

Sueanne_Tremendous's avatar

Thanks for the great answers. Isn’t the health risk linked to those who worked with asbestors or lived near plants that used asbestos? How much problem can it be health wise if I do removal once and I wear protective clothes? I know. I know….better safe than sorry.

Mr_M's avatar

And you’ll dispose of it where? How? You can’t just put it out in the trash.

I smell lawsuit!

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