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Asbestos information for homeowners
Homeowners undertaking spring remodeling projects and other do-it-yourself construction projects need to take steps to protect their individual health and the health of their family and neighbors from asbestos. The information below will help you learn to identify asbestos, protect yourself from harmful airborne fibers and know what to do when you discover asbestos in your home.View All Content|Collapse All Content
How to determine if asbestos is in your home
Asbestos was used widely in building materials throughout the 1900's. Use has decreased significantly since the 1970’s but there are some materials still in production today that contain asbestos. If your home was built prior to 1990, there is a high potential that asbestos-containing materials were used in its construction.
You can't identify asbestos simply by looking at it. Before conducting any remodeling, you should hire a professional to conduct a survey of possible asbestos-containing materials in your home. To be safe, treat all suspect materials as if they contain asbestos until you get samples analyzed. You should confirm the presence of asbestos by having suspect materials analyzed by a laboratory.
Prior to demolition, you should hire an accredited inspector to conduct a thorough survey of all materials to be demolished to determine the presence of asbestos. If asbestos is found, it should be properly removed and disposed.
You can find asbestos professionals in the yellow pages. An accredited inspector will have completed training and received accreditation through an EPA approved program under 40 CFR Part 763 Subpart E, Appendix C (Model Accreditation Plan), Section B (Initial Training), Subsection 3 (Inspector). You can find laboratories that analyze materials for asbestos in the yellow pages.
How to take a sample
A professional asbestos inspector can take samples and send them to a laboratory for analysis. If you are the home owner and this is your residence, then you can take a sample yourself. To avoid exposing anyone else, only you should be in the room when taking samples.
If you have asbestos in your home
If the asbestos-containing material is NOT broken, worn, damaged or disturbed, it poses little or no danger. Asbestos removal involves disturbing the material and possibly putting asbestos into the air. Leaving asbestos containing material intact is often a safer option.
DEQ strongly recommends against repairing or removing asbestos-containing materials yourself. Removing asbestos properly requires special equipment and detailed training. An individual could cause asbestos fiber contamination throughout your home and neighborhood, exposing your family and others unknowingly. DEQ recommends you hire a licensed asbestos abatement contractor to ensure that the work is done properly.
However, the regulations allow for you to repair or remove asbestos in a house that you own and live in. If you do your own asbestos removal work, you are responsible for using the proper safety equipment and following all handling, transport and disposal regulations. Asbestos-containing waste requires special handling and disposal and must be deposited at a landfill authorized to handle asbestos waste.
Hiring the right contractor
DEQ issues licenses to contractors that meet the requirements of Oregon's asbestos program. Make sure the contractor you hire appears on DEQ's list of Licensed Asbestos Abatement Contractors. Hiring a licensed contractor ensures they have the knowledge to properly remove asbestos-containing materials, use safety equipment, have received specialized training, and their employees and supervisors are certified.
As part of obtaining a license from DEQ, contractors are required to submit the information described below. You should feel free to request this information from contractors to assist you in your selection.
The following is not required, but would give you added confidence that a contractor is capable of conducting an asbestos abatement project properly:
Maintenance, repair and demolition
There's a good chance you can solve the problems without actually removing the asbestos. Removal is generally the last resort because it involves disturbing the material and sending more asbestos fibers into the air. In attempting a repair job, you should take a common sense approach to protecting yourself from possible exposure to asbestos fibers. We recommend eye protection and a respirator to minimize breathing in fibers, and protective clothing to minimize further contamination.
Removal of specific nonfriable products:
Some commonly found asbestos-containing materials that are nonfriable can be removed relatively safely. If you are the owner of the residence and also reside there, you can perform the removal yourself or hire a licensed asbestos abatement contractor. These documents offer guidelines on how to remove specific materials safely:
Guidance on how to remove friable asbestos-containing material (popcorn, furnace insulation, sheet vinyl and homeowner survey) is available to a homeowner who lives at the residence and would like to perform the removal themselves by contacting DEQ asbestos Staff. This is not recommended, but allowed.
If asbestos is released in your home
If you think a significant amount of asbestos has been released in your home:
Health impacts that are typically associated with being exposed to asbestos comes primarily from working for long periods of time around very high concentrations of fibers. Your health should not be impacted by a single exposure to asbestos fibers, but if you are concerned, please consult your doctor.
Disposing of asbestos-containing materials
All wastes contaminated with asbestos must be disposed of properly. In addition to all asbestos-containing materials, this includes all disposable clothing, respirator filters, safety equipment, materials used for containment, and materials used to clean up the area. All material must be placed in double 6 mil plastic bags, labeled as asbestos, and hauled to a landfill approved to accept asbestos.
Where is asbestos hiding in this house?
Fact sheet: Are you thinking about remodeling your home? See Asbestos information for homeowners
For more information about Air Quality call 503-229-5359 or email.