The Difference Between Asbestos Abatement and Remediation
Nothing stays the same forever. Even building materials change over time. One of the most common building materials in the 1970s was asbestos, and it lingers in many commercial and residential structures. Unfortunately, we now know that asbestos is not a safe material, and countless structures require asbestos abatement and remediation. Keep reading to learn about the difference between these removal processes.
What Is Asbestos?
As mentioned, asbestos is a building material. Do you know what it really is? Asbestos is a flexible silicate mineral fiber that resists heat, electricity, and corrosion. Six types of asbestos exist: crocidolite, amosite, anthophyllite, tremolite, and actinolite.
This silicate mineral fiber’s flexibility and resistance made it a popular building material in commercial and residential structures. It was the most popular substance in construction in the 1970s, and asbestos wasn’t banned until 1989.
Why Is Asbestos Dangerous?
The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) banned asbestos in 1989 because it was dangerous to humans. The most specific danger the EPA discovered was that asbestos causes cancer when people breathe in or ingest airborne asbestos. Dust particles are common in construction and daily life, so we might not notice them. Just because dust is common does not mean it is safe. If your structure was built before 1989 and you notice dust within walls and floors, it may be asbestos. After ingesting the toxic dust from asbestos, people can experience inflammation, scarring, and eventually cancer.
What Is Asbestos Abatement?
While the 1989 ban on asbestos helped stop the use of asbestos in building construction, we couldn’t magically remove all the asbestos already in buildings. Since asbestos is mostly sealed within building materials, such as sheet rock walls and concrete floors, we don’t know exactly where it is. Most people don’t discover asbestos in their structure until something disturbs that structure, such as a fallen tree breaking a wall or a new construction project opening a floor.
After discovering asbestos, you must hire professionals to remove or seal it. Otherwise, the dust can spread through your structure and put you and others at risk. The process of removing hazardous materials is called abatement. It mostly includes removal but can also include encapsulation, which refers to sealing off hazardous materials, such as asbestos particles, so they cannot cause harm.
During asbestos abatement, hired professionals will seal off the contaminated part of your structure to protect the rest of your building from the dangerous asbestos dust. After securing the seal, the professionals will wear protective equipment and remove the asbestos with hand tools and whatever methods are appropriate for the structure. Once the asbestos is gone, they will use a specialized vacuum to clean the area of any lingering asbestos debris. Finally, your building must pass an inspection to determine that the asbestos is gone.
If the professionals cannot remove the asbestos, they may encapsulate it. They will test the seal on the encapsulation and clean the surrounding area so it can pass an inspection to determine the covered asbestos is not a threat.
What Is Asbestos Remediation?
Asbestos remediation refers to the grand plan for tackling the asbestos problem in your structure. Remediation can refer to the plan to handle any hazardous materials, not just asbestos.
A remediation plan for asbestos or any other hazardous material starts with an inspection. A professional, such as an industrial hygienist, will inspect the area you believe contains asbestos. Once they confirm the presence of asbestos, remediation moves forward.
The next step of remediation is to mark off the contaminated area and place warning signs so people know about the asbestos danger. An abatement specialist normally performs this demarcation since they can recognize the asbestos and know the scope of work.
After the demarcation, the abatement process begins. The professionals you hire will carefully remove or encapsulate the asbestos so that it no longer poses a threat to the people in your building. They will clean up after themselves so your building can pass re-inspection.
The abatement professionals or the inspection professional will help you as the building owner or manager to create a long-term prevention plan. This safety plan is the important final step of the remediation process.
What Are the Differences?
The major difference between asbestos abatement and remediation is that abatement is a singular process. Abatement focuses on removing or encapsulating the asbestos. Remediation includes abatement, but it looks at the bigger picture, which features everything from the first inspection to the final inspection and a plan to prevent any asbestos problems in the future.
You cannot directly compare abatement and remediation since the latter involves the first. Everyone who hires abatement professionals participates in remediation. Everyone who starts a remediation plan hires someone for abatement. These two processes work together for your success and safety.
Which Is Better?
While abatement and remediation work together, remediation is the better of the two. Looking at the big picture and making plans to protect your people and structure is better than focusing only on the removal process.
The long-term plan of remediation is often unnecessary for asbestos. Since humans introduced asbestos to your structure, it’s no longer a problem once humans safely take it away. Long-term remediation plans are more necessary for potentially reoccurring hazards, such as mold. Asbestos-related issues cannot reoccur because the EPA banned it. If you prefer a long-term plan for your structure, then you can continue with remediation. Still, you can safely limit yourself to abatement if you prefer. Both will remove the asbestos and make your structure safe.
Who Can Help?
Many professionals can help you with the asbestos abatement and remediation processes. Inspectors and hazardous waste professionals are two groups that will play the most helpful roles since they are the most hands-on. At Clean Management Environmental Group, we are glad to help you dispose of hazardous materials.
Asbestos is a serious problem, but abatement and remediation can save your structure and set you up for success. If you need hazardous waste disposal in San Antonio, Clean Management Environmental Group is happy to help. We provide fast, free quotes so you can start your abatement and remediation processes as quickly as possible. You’ll love our competitive prices and personalized, quick service.