by Jeff Miekush
Do you remember? Back in the cobwebs of your memory – when you could read a trade journal and not even see an article about mold. Do you remember? Back when asbestos was king. Lately, most articles about environmental issues in the media have been geared toward mold. This article may prove to be a breath of fresh air – pun intended. Indoor environmentalists should be concerned with potential sources of problems other than mold: formaldehyde, lead-containing paints and varnishes, animal dander, insect skeletons, excrement, asbestos-containing materials, and so forth. So I would turn the focus away from mold for a bit and talk about something else. The mold professionals out there should keep in mind that the fixing of a moisture problem and the associated remediation of the moldy materials may involve breaking, abrading, or otherwise damaging asbestos- or lead-containing materials. In our litigious society, the issues of lead-containing materials and asbestos-containing materials are still hot topics and should be addressed in addition to any primary mold issues. The suspect materials should be addressed in an inspection report. Sample the materials yourself, get the materials sampled by another certified party, or disclaimer your mold report and recommend the materials be sampled by a properly certified and licensed inspector prior to being disturbed during mold remedial activities. Also, make sure that if you do the sampling yourself, you have the proper lead or asbestos certifications and/or licenses in your state to avoid any encounters with your local environmental regulatory agency.
As a reminder, prior to 1978, lead was commonly added to paints, varnishes, ceramic tile, and ceramic tile glazes. Even today, some imported ceramic tiles and glazing contain lead. Asbestos, however, was at one time or another put in just about every building material produced. A long list of materials has been found to contain asbestos, including gypsum wall board, joint compound, texture (surfacing) materials, plasters, vinyl floor tiles, sheet flooring, tile adhesives, grouts, caulks, pipe wrap, block pipe insulation, sink insulation coatings, heat shields in light fixtures, vermiculite attic and wall insulations, acoustic ceiling tiles, lightweight acoustical ceiling textures, cement sheeting (transite), roofing (shingle, rolled, tar paper, built-up), roofing tars, penetration sealants, aluminized paints, stuccos, and wire insulation.
The asbestos process has been defined for over thirty years now and involves the following phases: inspection and sampling, abatement, and clearance. During the inspection and sampling phase, each suspect material is identified, sampled, and analyzed utilizing a bulk analysis technique such as Polarized Light Microscopy (PLM) or Transmission Electron Microscopy (TEM). During abatement and clearance, air samples are collected. Air sampling is used during abatement to determine asbestos concentrations for worker exposure purposes and to ensure that asbestos fibers are not being released into areas outside the containment area.
Read the complete article in April’s Healthy Indoors Magazine HERE.