Asbestos Abatement - Your Experience?

Stephen CostaNovember 30, 2009

Today we just had 100 linear feet of asbestos pipe insulation removed from the basement of a house we're renovating. The house is empty, and on the verge of a major interior remodel (no one lives at the house now).

The asbestos abatement company is a professionally certified outfit, and I was there this morning when they setup - they appeared fully equipped and qualified to do the job. I found them through a referral actually.

However, I wasn't at the house when they finished, but had asked for a phone call from one of the supervisors to let me know it was done (my plan was to go to the house and check it out before they left). I never got a call so I went over about 30-60 minutes before they had thought they'd be finished this afternoon. They were already gone. One part that I missed was the aggressive air quality test (using fans, etc.) which was performed by an independent industrial hygienist. I was hoping to be around so I could talk to the hygienist about the results, essentially for peace of mind (and to make sure the person seemed professional).

So I did talk to my main contact at the abatement company (I called him) when I got to the empty house, and of course he told me everything went fine and his crew contacted him when they left and reported that the industrial hygienist gave the "all clear" for the work area. Visually, the basement looks very clean (and this was a very dingy, dusty and dirty basement)...though in some spots there are still the random spider-web strings and coatings of light dirt - so it's not like they wet-wiped every square inch of surface area. However the pipes appear to be asbestos-free and you can smell encapsulant so I know they used it.

I was promised the air quality test report in the next day or so, along with the abatement certification. Once I get all that, I will pay the company the rest of their fee.

For those of you who have had similar work done (particularly in a basement), how clean was the space afterwards and were you presented written air quality findings on the spot at the end of the work?

Thank you!

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"Once I get all that, I will pay the company the rest of their fee".

That's the ticket! Wait until you get written documentation from the hygenist that states the area is safe and approved by your township.

    Bookmark   November 30, 2009 at 7:28PM
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It sounds like you are getting the right responses from this company, so I wouldn't worry too much about the fact that the basement isn't spotless. They typically use "glove bags" that contain the asbestos as they work, and specially filtered vacuums that trap stray particles from the work area. If you wanted even more piece of mind, you could check with your local air quality or State environmental agency, or the Federal Environmental Protection Agency Regional Office responsible for your State. They typically maintain names of all certified asbestos removal outfits, and you might even get someone to tell you if there have been any problems with this company's work.

    Bookmark   December 1, 2009 at 12:43PM
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Stephen Costa

Yes, I know that they did use the glove-bag method, setup containment, created a negative air space, used HEPA vacuums, water, etc. etc.

I guess what I didn't make clear in my original post, is that some of the pipe wrap was in poor shape before the abatement, so that there was at least a little asbestos released before any of the work started (it would've just been settled on surfaces near the pipes, or wherever it was swept or kicked over the years or during the recent basement clean out).

So, when I see dirt & dust remaining on some of the walls and floor, I can see that not all surfaces were cleaned well and thus there could still be asbestos on surfaces down there.

    Bookmark   December 1, 2009 at 11:57PM
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When I was a little kid I used to help my dad remove asbestos floor tile. 1 job was huge warehouse upper story. dad put chalk line on floor & told me not to step over it. He handed me a few tiles he had knocked loose(no masks or gloves used)probably 30 ft wide &100 ft long area & I took them over & threw them in the dump truck. He was a floor layer & laid the stuff too. He's 93 & never had cancer & neither have I. 10 yrs ago we removed asbestos from basement of our church as the city was threatening to make businesses remove asbestos. Same thing, I helped him with that. Much worry over nothing! I also duct taped around my furnace after Northridge quake about '93 I know it has some asbestos, did put hankie over my nose as dusty up there! We lived in basement with asbestos tile while dad finished house upstairs too. If you worked in asbestos factory you might have something to worry about. Otherwise enjoy your home!!

    Bookmark   December 2, 2009 at 10:49AM
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There's a huge difference in asbestos laced floor tile and pipe wraps or acoustic,(popcorn) ceilings that contained asbestos. With floor tiles, breaking them up produces miniscules dusts compared to pipe wraps and acoustic. The asbestos fibers are way more airborne with the latter and are ingested in larger amounts. Yeah, if your a gambler, dont play it safe with any asbestos removal, just do it. But in a real world, it's a substance that should be left to the pros in any asbestos removal application.

    Bookmark   December 2, 2009 at 11:17AM
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Stephen Costa

Ok, I was looking around for expert discussion online, and it appears that the level of 'clean' I was really angling for in my abatement was 'White Glove Clean'. This is described below, quoted from link provided.

'After they are done cleaning, the rooms should be able to pass a 'white-glove test'. Meaning, if you were to put a white glove on your hand, and rub it over any surface in the room, the white glove should still be clean.'

I will say, although the basement and pipes visually looked clean at the end (compared to their previous condition), it would definitely NOT pass the white glove test. But, this is a basement of a house built in 1914 - it is a very old and dingy basement! The former owners were elderly, and lived in it for 60 years. So I'm not sure if it would be reasonable for me to expect "white glove clean" or not....

Here is a link that might be useful: Asbestos Air Testing

    Bookmark   December 3, 2009 at 5:27PM
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