Asbestos can be found in many materials throughout a single building. Because asbestos is so distinctive, it has been used in the making of insulation, floor and ceiling tiles, wall texture material, and much more. The qualities that asbestos has are invaluable in the products that contain them. Unfortunately, once asbestos has been disturbed or broken down, it can become hazardous. Asbestos will continue breaking down into smaller fibers which can be harmful when they are inhaled. Once these fibers are in the lungs they begin to scar and damage tissues leading to asbestos-related diseases including asbestosis, mesothelioma, and even lung cancer. For all these reasons it is plain to see that every precaution needs to be taken to reduce the amount of asbestos fibers released into the environment. To reduce the amount of asbestos released during demolition, the EPA and the National Emissions Standard for Hazardous Air Pollutants (NESHAP) have specific regulations that must be followed. Three pertinent guidelines during demolition involve a building inspection, regulatory notifications, removal of asbestos materials, and proper disposal. If building owners follow the established requirements they can guarantee a safe demolition as well as avoid any fines associated with improper work practices.
Before demolition can begin there needs to be a thorough inspection of the entire building. This inspection needs to be performed by a licensed, certified Building Inspector specifically trained to test for asbestos. This inspection will include not only a visual inspection for asbestos materials but samples must also be taken and analyzed to confirm the presence or absence of asbestos. If there is no inspection done on the building, everything must be treated as asbestos-containing. This method is usually more expensive than removing known asbestos materials prior to demolition. There are very few situations where this would be the case. For example, if a building burned down without having any survey on record, everything in the ruble would need to be treated as asbestos because there is no way to separate it.
If asbestos is present in a building, it can be categorized in one of three ways; friable, category I non-friable, or category II non-friable. Friable asbestos is any material that contains more than 1% asbestos and can be pulverized by hand pressure, turning it into a powder. In a demolition situation, everything categorized as friable asbestos needs to be removed before the destruction. The other category of asbestos is non-friable which is broken up into category I and category II. Category I non-friable asbestos is asbestos-containing packing materials, gasketing, resilient floor coverings, asphalt, and roofing products. On the other hand, category II non-friable is categorized as anything that is not considered in category I. The most prominent category II product is transite siding very brittle cement type sheeting). In a demolition project, category II non-friable asbestos must be removed because it can become friable and hazardous during the demolition process. According to NESHAP any material defined as RACM (regulated asbestos-containing material) must be removed before demolition. Due to this regulation, friable asbestos must be removed as well as any category I that may be subject to sanding, cutting, or grinding. Also, category II asbestos that has a high probability of becoming pulverized during the course of demolition; like transite siding must be removed. There are specific notification requirements to various regulatory agencies prior to the demolition of any building. These notifications will include the USEPA and other state or local agencies depending on the location of the building. Notification information will include the following: identification of all suspect material, the quantity of ACM, location, and condition of ACM. There may be additional notification requirements depending on location, so check before proceeding with any demolition project.