My Air Quality Tests Are Good, but There Is Asbestos on My HVAC Ducts; Is Abatement of Asbestos Still Necessary?
We’d all prefer to think of asbestos as a thing of the past. Unfortunately, this cancer-causing agent still shows up from time to time in older homes or commercial buildings. It was a component of so many building materials for so long that we are still dealing with its after-effects to this day. One spot where asbestos-containing materials are often found is in the HVAC ducts of older homes and businesses. If you discover asbestos in your HVAC system, you should hire someone to handle abatement of asbestos as soon as possible.
The Risks of Asbestos
Typically, asbestos will pose problems for interior air quality and respiratory health. Asbestos is known to cause lung cancer, mesothelioma, asbestosis, and a range of other health issues. These complications are so severe that asbestos-related illnesses are still estimated to be responsible for upwards of 10,000 deaths every year in the United States.
These complications are not worth risking, whether for your family, your customers, or your employers. If you find asbestos anywhere in your building, you need to focus on having it removed or remediated right away. Doing so is the only way to minimize your risk levels, as well as potential liability issues.
However, say you find asbestos in your HVAC system, but an air quality test determines that the air quality in your home or business is “good.” Is asbestos abastill necessary? Or does the positive air quality test indicate that asbestos quantities are low enough that they aren’t a problem?
When it comes to asbestos, the only thing you need to know is whether it is present on your premises or not. If it is present, then the results of an air quality test do not matter. Asbestos is a trump card in this situation. If there is asbestos in your home or business, you need to abate it, regardless of the quantity, friability, or location.
Abatement of Asbestos: How It Works
There are two ways to handle abatement of asbestos on your property. The first method is outright removal. Removing asbestos eliminates any trace of this carcinogenic mineral from your home or office. In the case of HVAC vents, this process usually means removing the insulation around HVAC ductwork. Because asbestos is exceptionally flame-retardant, builders often used it as a form of insulation—, especially in commercial buildings. As such, it is common for HVAC ducts in older buildings to be insulated with asbestos-containing materials.
In some cases, outright removal may not be an option. Removing asbestos is an expensive and complicated process that involves a variety of different considerations. Sometimes, removal might not fall within the budget of the property owner or might be too dangerous considering the friability of the asbestos materials at hand. In such cases, abatement teams will shift to asbestos repair tactics. Asbestos repair involves bonding it together with cement sheeting or covering it up so that it isn’t exposed.
Which Asbestos Abatement Option Is Right for You?
When it comes to HVAC ducts, your best bet is always going to be complete removal. You don’t want asbestos that close to the ducts that distribute air throughout your house. You also want to be able to access your ducts if you ever need to repair them, which can be impossible if you seal the areas around any asbestos-containing insulation.
At the very least, you should consult with a company that does abatement of asbestos, to find out 1) whether removal is possible in your situation, and 2) what asbestos removal is likely to cost you. Often, it’s worth paying a little bit extra to eradicate any threat of asbestos from your property.
Ultimately, though, the most important thing is taking steps to remediate asbestos, should it be found on your property. Homeowners, in particular, do not have a legal obligation to remove or repair asbestos if they find it in their residences. However, failing to abate asbestos leaves you vulnerable to health risks that, once again, are just not worth taking. Hiring someone to handle abatement of asbestos on your property will provide peace of mind and protection for you and your family going forward.
What If You Aren’t Sure?
Don’t take a positive air quality test as a sign that your home or business has no asbestos. Asbestos insulation can hide in your walls without directly impacting the air quality of the building. As such, it is always best to have an inspection done of your home or business, to determine whether there is any asbestos in the building materials. These inspections are most important for older buildings, but still aren’t a bad idea for newer structures. Contrary to popular belief, asbestos is not banned outright in the United States, which means there is still a chance of it popping up here and there. Consulting with an expert on inspection and abatement of asbestos will help you determine once and for all whether your building has an asbestos problem.