Tag Archives: asbestos

Disaster Aftermath: It’s not over when it’s over

As we all watch footage of the terrible killer floods in Texas and Oklahoma this week (wishing we could have some of that rain ourselves), we remember that there is danger from natural disasters wherever you live. But the danger isn’t over when the flood waters recede. The disaster aftermath can be every bit as dangerous as the actual event.

After a Flood

Water damage can wreak havoc to our homes and personal possessions, destroying precious and irreplaceable objects like books and photographs, important documents, and building materials. Some things can be cleaned and dried, and others must be discarded.

Water damage to porous materials means they need to be replaced, otherwise they will be subject to almost instantaneous mold growth. Let the drywall go and think of what color you’d like to paint those new walls.

After a Tornado

Tornados bring some of the same water damage dangers, but also can tear apart buildings, if not rip them from their foundations. Older buildings may contain asbestos which may never have been disturbed if not for the tornado, but becomes a danger during cleanup and restoration. Do not touch any suspected asbestos materials. Have a professional assess and remove it safely. There is no safe level of exposure to asbestos.

After an Earthquake

You probably have relatives who ask you, “How can you live with the danger of earthquakes?” Well, we don’t have hurricanes or tornadoes, so we take what we get, just like those in other parts of the country. But we do have to be careful and remember that earthquakes can do similar damage to tornadoes and other storms. Dangerous building materials like asbestos can be disturbed and expose us to carcinogens.

The safest way to clean up after a natural disaster is to call in a professional cleanup team. At Seacliff, we have trained and experienced cleanup technicians who can deal with any hazardous materials quickly and safely, without exposing you, your family or your community to any dangerous substances exposed by a disaster.

Be prepared for the disaster aftermath and be careful during the events in your region!

Global Asbestos Awareness Week 2015

It may be April Fool’s Day, but we are not fooling when we warn you about the dangers of asbestos. This week is Global Asbestos Awareness Week and we want to make sure that you are aware of the risks you could be taking if you tackle home renovation projects that involve asbestos containing materials.

Where can asbestos be found?

asbestos-in-home

 What about in a Commercial Property?

asbestos hides

We hope that you take our warnings about the dangers of asbestos exposure seriously. Especially in spring, when we all want to tackle home improvement projects in the warm (but not too hot) weather, it would be easy to neglect the very real risks posed by trying to remove asbestos yourself.

Don’t do it!

Here is an excerpt from a documentary film entitled “The Evil Dust, a history of Asbestos” that we thought might make you more careful:

Asbestos: The Evil Dust

Of course, we all want that old pipe insulation, that ancient linoleum, those roof shingles out of our homes and out of our environment. But if you don’t do it the right way, removing those materials can be worse than leaving them in place. Contact a professional asbestos abatement company before you endanger your own health or that of your family.

Asbestos Materials All Over

Think asbestos is a problem of the past, but not today? Unfortunately, although asbestos materials have been banned for some uses for many years, it is still in use for some things and can be found in many older buildings, both residential and commercial.

The Environmental Protection Agency’s chart of asbestos materials is much longer than even we thought. We work with people to safely clean up and remove asbestos products every day, but it’s been a while since we thought about just how many there are!

Potentially Lethal Asbestos Materials:

  • Cement Pipes
  • Elevator Brake Shoes
  • Cement Wallboard
  • HVAC Duct Insulation
  • Cement Siding
  • Boiler Insulation
  • Asphalt Floor Tile
  • Breaching Insulation
  • Vinyl Floor Tile Ductwork
  • Flexible Fabric Connections
  • Vinyl Sheet Flooring
  • Cooling Towers
  • Flooring Backing
  • Pipe Insulation (corrugated air-cell, block, etc.)
  • Construction Mastics (floor tile, carpet, ceiling tile, etc.) Heating and Electrical Ducts
  • Acoustical Plaster
  • Electrical Panel Partitions
  • Decorative Plaster
  • Electrical Cloth
  • Textured Paints/Coatings
  • Electric Wiring Insulation
  • Ceiling Tiles and Lay-in Panels
  • Chalkboards
  • Spray-Applied Insulation
  • Roofing Shingles
  • Blown-in Insulation
  • Roofing Felt
  • Fireproofing Materials
  • Base Flashing
  • Taping Compounds (thermal)
  • Thermal Paper Products
  • Packing Materials (for wall/floor penetrations)
  • Fire Doors
  • High Temperature Gaskets
  • Caulking/Putties
  • Laboratory Hoods/Table Tops
  • Adhesives
  • Laboratory Gloves
  • Wallboard
  • Fire Blankets
  • Joint Compounds
  • Fire Curtains
  • Vinyl Wall Coverings
  • Elevator Equipment Panels
  • Spackling Compounds

Great thanks to the EPA for the list, but even that list is only a selection of asbestos materials.

After a natural or man-made disaster or during a renovation project, you may be removing or replacing these products or materials. It is not safe for you to work with or near asbestos materials without proper training and equipment. Even one exposure can be dangerous to your health and the health of your family or community.

There is no safe level of exposure to asbestos. If you think you might be dealing with something which contains asbestos, call in a professional asbestos abatement company to remove it completely and safely. Asbestos removal is NOT a DIY project!

Asbestos Misconceptions

We came across a story in The Star Phoenix, a newspaper published in Saskatoon, Saskatchewan, Canada that was so full of asbestos misconceptions, we could hardly believe they had done any research at all.

Workers in a Civic Center in Saskatoon were exposed to Chrysotile asbestos, one of the family of asbestos-related minerals. In fact, Chrysotile is the most common form of asbestos found in the US. The asbestos was exposed during a renovation project and as many as 50 city and contract workers may have been exposed. Those are the facts.

Let’s look at the asbestos misconceptions in the article one by one:

Asbestos Misconception #1: Chrysotile is not as dangerous as asbestos

“the city discovered remnants of chrysotile, a material that contains asbestos…”

FALSE: Chrysotile does not contain asbestos, it IS asbestos.

“Of the two types of asbestos material used in construction, chrysotile is considered to be less potent.”

FALSE: All types of asbestos are known carcinogens.

Asbestos Misconception #2: It takes a lot of asbestos to cause disease.

“Asbestos is not considered dangerous unless there is a significant amount in the air…”

FALSE: There is no safe level of exposure to asbestos and it doesn’t take a lot to cause a problem. In fact, one fiber of inhaled asbestos can cause cancer years or decades down the road.

Asbestos Misconception #3: Asbestos stays put

“Members of the public attending the facility were never in danger…”

Perhaps. But since the majority of workers were exposed by walking through the room which contained the asbestos, they were obviously traveling from one location to another in the facility. If asbestos was in the air (it was), it could have been transported into other parts of the facility including public areas by these workers. It remains to be seen whether members of the public were exposed.

The city officials in Saskatoon appear to have taken a rather casual attitude toward this incident involving chrysotile asbestos. Perhaps their attitude was informed by the misconceptions often found in media reports, but we recommend that anyone in charge of facilities which could contain asbestos do their research before a small incident turns into a large liability.

Asbestos Basics

We hear about asbestos on TV all the time, but how much do you really know about asbestos?Here are some asbestos basics you may not have encountered:

The Ancient History of Asbestos

Asbestos is not one substance, but a set of six minerals which separate into thin fibers and have heat, fire and acid resistant properties.  The use of asbestos goes back at least 4500 years in Finland and was named by the Ancient Greeks.

In the 6th Century, wealthy Persians would astound dinner guests, cleaning their asbestos napkins by throwing them in the fire.  Charlemagne is believed to have owned a tablecloth made of asbestos.  Famous explorer Marco Polo was reported to have been offered fireproof garments made of “wool from the mountains,” but were in fact made from wool-like asbestos fibers.

Asbestos in the United States

Asbestos use in the US began in 1858 and became ubiquitous during the Industrial Revolution.  Asbestos has been used for such diverse products as: concrete and fireplace cement, pipe insulation, fireproof drywall, lawn furniture and heat and fire resistant gaskets.  It was once used in the braking systems of automobiles.  One brand of cigarettes even used asbestos in their filters in the 1950’s!

When did we know asbestos was dangerous?

The danger of exposure to asbestos was being observed as early as ancient Roman times.  Through the Twentieth Century, information and research have increased our knowledge of the dangers of asbestos exposure enormously, leading eventually to passage of the Asbestos Ban and Phase Out Rule in the US in 1989, which was unfortunately overturned in 1991.  However, the EPA does have very strict rules about asbestos exposure in the workplace.

Asbestos in the 21st Century

The new millennium began with possibly the worst asbestos-related disaster in history, the 9/11 attack on the World Trade Center.  It is believed that over 1000 tons of asbestos were released into the air on that tragic day and has probably been the cause of many of the respiratory diseases in first responders, construction workers and others exposed to the air in the aftermath of the attack.

Although employers are very careful today to follow EPA regulations regarding current exposure to asbestos, wrongful death lawsuits are many and growing from the years when asbestos was commonly encountered in the workplace.

What do we use today instead of asbestos?

Fiberglass is the most common substance used as a replacement for asbestos in current construction for insulation.  Other organic fibers and silica are also used for many of the products that used to contain asbestos.

What to Do If You Find Asbestos

Asbestos is often discovered during renovation and reconstruction projects, as well as exposed after natural disasters.  Homeowners are not required to remove asbestos, but since exposure on even one occasion can cause disease, it is a good idea to have it removed once it has been exposed.  If you are planning to sell your house, California law requires you to disclose the presence of asbestos to potential buyers.

Commercial property owners are required to remove asbestos if it has become exposed or dangerous.

If you need to remove asbestos safely, call a qualified, licensed asbestos abatement contractor like Seacliff Environmental.  We have the necessary knowledge, talent, experience and resources to solve your asbestos abatement challenges efficiently and safely. If you need asbestos abatement services for flooring, sheet goods, pipe insulation, siding, roofing, duct work, stucco, drywall, ceiling tile, popcorn ceiling, plaster, buttonboard, fireproofing and other products, we are here to help!