In a recent blog, Avoiding Asbestos Hazards When Demolishing a Building, we covered the risks of asbestos fiber exposure during a planned demolition. But what about the risks of unplanned destruction? In this article, we’ll look at the risks of having property that has asbestos-containing materials – even those that are considered “safely” contained – during an incident that results in damage or destruction of the property, using both the hypothetical and the tragically real.
The Dangers of Accidently Asbestos Release and Exposure
It’s important to understand that not all asbestos-containing materials (ACM) are created equal. There are hundreds of different asbestos products with different property and risks that can be located throughout your building, and some pose bigger risks than others. Namely “friable” asbestos, such as the kind discussed in our blog, The Difference Between Friable Asbestos and Non-Friable Asbestos, which sheds asbestos fibers that become airborne. The issue is with the destruction of a building, even non-friable asbestos and encapsulated asbestos can become free during damage, collapse, fire, or other building disasters.
Airborne Asbestos During Building Damage and Destruction
Probably one of the most tragic and famous examples of previously “safe” asbestos becoming airborne was the destruction of the World Trade Center Twin Towers in the 9/11 terrorist attacks. According to this article by Asbestos.com, in 1971 during mid-construction of the tower, the builders halted the use of ACMs in anticipation of an asbestos ban. And while over 20 stories of the towers already contained asbestos fireproofing materials, it was considered safe – until the collapse of the building shattered the materials into a fine dust that lead to about 70 percent of rescue and recovery personnel suffering from the “World Trade Center Cough.”
What to Do If You Have ACMs in Your Building
Even if your building’s asbestos is non-friable or encapsulated, or the building isn’t being used or condemned, the above situation illustrates the need to have your building treated. If full demolition isn’t an option, take a look at the following options:
- Asbestos Inspection: First if you haven’t already, you should get your building inspected for asbestos to learn the amounts, types, and your options.
- Asbestos Abatement: Depending on the type, amount, and location of asbestos, your asbestos abatement company will recommend safe removal as part of abatement.
- Hazardous Materials Insurance: If you are unable to or unwilling to remove the asbestos, you may want to invest in Pollution Liability Insurance for lawsuit after the release of asbestos in the event of a disaster.
- Safety Inspection: Have inspections and safety measures taken to reduce the events of a disaster such as fire or collapse.
Don’t wait until it’s too late and disaster strikes, get hazards live asbestos out of your buildings. Fiber Control, Inc. specializes in the procedures for dealing with asbestos and other hazardous materials. If you’re in Massachusetts or New Hampshire and need asbestos inspection and abatement, we can help. Contact us today.