Information on Asbestos Removal for residential and commercial buildings
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is a naturally occurring mineral fiber mined from the earth.
has been used in more than 3,000 different construction materials and manufactured products, including many found in your home.
could have been installed in your home through the late 1980s.
Why is it a problem?
When disturbed, asbestos breaks down into very small fibers up to 1,200 times thinner than a human hair. When inhaled, they become trapped in lung tissue. Medical research tells us that up to 30 years after we have breathed them in, asbestos fibers can cause lung diseases and cancer.
There's no known safe level of asbestos exposure. That's why you need to protect you and your family's health. Anyone working on asbestos materials in your home should take the right precautions to stop asbestos fibers from being released into the air.
How do I know it's asbestos?
Check for asbestos markings on the material or its packaging.
Submit a small sample to a laboratory and they will analyze it using a microscope. Labs are listed in the Yellow Pages under "Asbestos - Consulting and Testing." The Minnesota Department of Health also has a list.
Hire a Minnesota-certified asbestos inspector to sample the material and assess its condition. A list of inspectors is available from the Minnesota Department of Health.
If you have asbestos in your home...
Leave it alone
Asbestos is only a problem if asbestos fibers are released into the air. If the asbestos material is in good repair and if it is not being disturbed, then it will not release asbestos fibers. The safest and easiest option may be to leave the asbestos material alone.
Sometimes, asbestos can be repaired. A few inches of torn, loose or frayed asbestos tape wrap on heating ducts, for example, can be sealed with a special paint called encapsulant or high quality duct tape. Check with your hardware store or a safety supply store for materials to repair or encapsulate asbestos.
If the asbestos material is extensively damaged or if it needs to be disturbed, removing the material may be the best option.
If you decide to have asbestos removed or if you have larger areas that need to be repaired, you should know, that in most cases, it is illegal to hire a person to do this work without an asbestos contractor's license from the Minnesota Department of Health (MDH). These licensed contractors employ removal and encapsulation techniques unavailable to do-it-yourself homeowners, so the asbestos is handled safely. They also perform air monitoring to see if the air in your home meets acceptable standards at the end of the project. Get several bids on your project and check references before choosing a contractor. The MDH has a list of licensed asbestos contractors and a handout with what you need to be aware of when you hire a contractor to do work in your home.
Minnesota law regulates removal or encapsulation of asbestos-containing materials from single- or multi-family homes in quantities greater than 10 linear feet or 6 square feet. Some asbestos-containing materials covered under the law include wallboard and spackle, insulation on heating pipes, water pipes or furnace ducts, and furnace and water heater insulation. Asbestos-containing flooring, roofing materials, siding and ceiling materials in homes with four or fewer dwelling units are exempt from MDH regulation. However, disturbing these materials is still dangerous to your health.
Homeowners may legally remove asbestos themselves from the single-family home they own and occupy. When asbestos materials need to be disturbed, the MDH strongly recommends using a Minnesota-licensed asbestos contractor.
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