Starting Construction? Here are 5 things you need to know about asbestos

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If you’re new to the world of asbestos, you know how complicated it can be to educate yourself on what asbestos is and how exactly to deal with it. Never fear! Essel is here to help.

In this post, one of our engineers addresses 5 things you need to know about asbestos that he encounters in the field. 

First, let’s start with some basic vocabulary: 

  • CAC: A Certified Asbestos Consultant, or CAC, is defined by the Department of Industrial Relations (DIR) as any person who “contracts to provide professional health and safety services relating to asbestos.” In more basic terms, it’s a person licensed to assist with nearly all asbestos-related needs. 
  • Abatement Contractor: an abatement contractor, or remediation contractor, is anyone who can remove asbestos once it has been located. Yes, you read that right, different people need to be hired to perform the survey that locates asbestos and actually remove the asbestos. 
  • AHERA Building Inspector:  Personnel that have taken an approved course to be an Asbestos Building Designer.  This allows them to perform asbestos surveys in most states in the United States, with the exception of the ones that have their own state requirements (California, New York, Colorado, etc.

Now, on to the questions: 

Q: Can I taste, smell, or see asbestos? 

A: No, asbestos cannot be tasted, smelled, or seen without a microscope. So, if you’re absolutely convinced an item has asbestos in it, consult a CAC in order to confirm your suspicions. However, if necessary, it is always safer to assume that asbestos is present rather than assuming that it is not. 

Q: When do I need to be afraid of asbestos? 

A: This is a tricky question to answer, because the presence of asbestos always leads to some level of risk. However, the general rule of thumb is that asbestos is only dangerous when disturbed and released into the air, such as during construction, or during a renovation or demolition where building materials are being disturbed. 

Q: When does an asbestos survey need to be conducted? 

A: The quick answer to this question is that if there are going to be workers on site, an asbestos survey needs to be conducted beforehand (for more information, check out another of our blog posts here). Whether you’re performing construction in a single family home or on a commercial property, OSHA requires that an asbestos survey needs to be conducted before workers are allowed to start construction and/or demolition on the property due to the concern for worker safety.

Q: Can I see my asbestos survey results immediately? 

A: No, in order for asbestos to be properly identified, the material needs to be taken to a lab for testing. Depending on the lab and requested turnaround time that your CAC uses, results might be available for you to review one day to a week after the survey is conducted. For a better approximation of when you’ll get your results back, consult your CAC directly.

Q: Are there asbestos in my flooring? Fireplace? Walls? 

A: Well, you’re in luck, because there’s a ton of information out there about which products historically contain asbestos. Check out this site for a more detailed guide to asbestos-containing items. However, for the purpose of this blog post, some of the more obvious asbestos-containing products are adhesives, insulation, and roofing materials. 

If you have any further questions about asbestos or need an asbestos survey conducted, reach out to us by phone at 1-800-595-7616 or by email at for more information.  

Or, check out our website for more information here