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How to detect dangerous amateur asbestos removal jobs:
This article provides photographs of amateur, incomplete, and incompetent asbestos cleanup jobs to help building owners or home buyers spot asbestos in poor or damaged condition in buildings, including
identification of amateur or improper asbestos "abatement" projects that failed to properly remove materials or that left abandoned
asbestos materials in place.
Incomplete, Amateur Asbestos Removal - Asbestos on heating pipes - incomplete, amateur removal - highly suspect for contamination
Fuzzy scraps of asbestos-suspect material left on a rusty steel heating pipe in a basement indicate that
asbestos insulation was removed without cleaning and sealing the surface of the pipe.
Shown in our photos just above are a close ups of asbestos debris left on a heating pipe. The insulation was simply removed without cleaning.
Below we show another heating pipe elbow which was not cleaned of asbestos insulation. Unlike the "corrugated paper" asbestos
insulation used on horizontal pipe runs, an asbestos paste was used at pipe elbows and on other irregular shapes.
Here is a close up of asbestos insulation paste left on a pipe elbow, evidence of amateur workmanship during
an asbestos insulation remediation.
The orangish fibrous material under the
white covering on the straight pipe runs is fiberglass pipe insulation which has been added.
But the remaining paste on the
elbow tells us that the pipes were not cleaned and washed during the remediation.
Someone installed fiberglass heating pipe insulation around the elbow but left
the elbow un-cleaned.
The building owner had been told that a proper asbestos removal had been performed and that all pipes were re-insulated.
A professional asbestos abatement company with properly-trained workers and competent supervision would have washed these pipes and probably painted them with a sealant.
Finding scraps of
asbestos insulation material left on heating pipes (such as in these photos)
is a strong indicator that removal was done by an amateur. In such cases I recommend that the
building air and settled dust on surfaces be tested for asbestos contamination since removal was by amateurs.
Any air handling equipment
(such as a central air conditioning system) should also be checked for asbestos fiber contamination.
When we see evidence of short cuts and amateur workmanship in an asbestos remediation project we're worried that
there may have been asbestos contamination of other site or building areas.
So the expense to "correct" this condition,
if testing confirms cross-contamination of the site with asbestos fibers, could be greater than the simple cost to
clean and re-insulate the piping. Professional cleaning of other building areas could be needed.
Certification & Licensing for Asbestos Abatement, Removal, & Cleanup Companies: Consumer Warning about Environmental Cleanup Contractors
Watch out: in 2010 The New York Times reported [paraphrasing from that article] that over a five year period beginning in 2001 hundreds of asbestos-removal training certificates were given to people who had completed no training whatsoever.
Reader Question: how dangerous is it when we see signs of incomplete asbestos pipe insulation removal?
(Feb 26, 2014) Michelle said:
We have been living in a home for almost a year now and I noticed that there was insulation removed from the pipes in our basement. I am going to assume that it was done improperly as the pipes have not been cleaned and that the insulation was asbestos as the home was built in 1940. Are we at risk of developing health problems from the previous owners removing this asbestos material?
Michelle, based just on a brief note, no responsible professional would attempt to answer the question of whether or not you are at an asbestos exposure health risk. The answer will depend on the amount of asbestos exposure of building occupants, which could range from below detection to significant.
Examples of some factors one would consider are the amount of asbestos disturbed in the removal, where that material was located, whether or not materials were brought through the building or taken directly outoors, what kind of dust containment was used during the cleanup, and what kind of testing was done before, during, and after the job.
But with all that cautious arm waving aside, I agree that when we see that work was done by an amateur the question you raise is a sensible one.
At this point the proper steps will be at least include doing the rest of the job properly. You might want to have an expert test settled dust in appropriate building locations (not just an "air test" which is too easily bamboozled). If that testing finds that there is asbestos contaminated dust in other building areas besides the basement where the pipes you described are located, then when the pipe cleanup job is planned, the scope of work can include additional cleaning needed in the rest of the building - if in fact tests show that it is necessary.
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June 1997 - Window Putty - OSHA case cites contractor for asbestos exposure during removal of window putty http://www.osha.gov/pls/oshaweb/owadisp.show_document?p_table=NEWS_RELEASES&p_id=1091
Asbestos Identification and Testing References
Asbestos Identification, Walter C.McCrone, McCrone Research Institute, Chicago, IL.1987 ISBN 0-904962-11-3. Dr. McCrone literally "wrote the book" on asbestos identification procedures which formed
the basis for current work by asbestos identification laboratories.
Stanton, .F., et al., National Bureau of Standards Special Publication 506: 143-151
Pott, F., Staub-Reinhalf Luft 38, 486-490 (1978) cited by McCrone
ASBESTOS IN YOUR HOME U.S. EPA, Exposure Evaluation Division, Office of Toxic Substances, Office of Pesticides and Toxic Substances, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, Washington,D.C. 20460
Asbestos products and their history and use in various building materials such as asphalt and vinyl flooring includes discussion which draws on ASBESTOS, ITS INDUSTRIAL APPLICATIONS, ROSATO 1959, D.V. Rosato, engineering consultant, Newton, MA, Reinhold Publishing, 1959 Library of Congress Catalog Card No.: 59-12535 (out of print, text and images available at InspectAPedia.com).
"Handling Asbestos-Containing roofing material - an update", Carl Good, NRCA Associate Executive Director, Professional Roofing, February 1992, p. 38-43
EPA Guidance for Controlling Asbestos-Containing Materials in buildings, NIAST, National Institute on Abatement Sciences & Technology, [republishing EPA public documents] 1985 ed., Exposure Evaluation Division, Office of Toxic Substances, Office of Pesticides and Toxic Substances, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, Washington,D.C. 20460
Books & Articles on Building & Environmental Inspection, Testing, Diagnosis, & Repair
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