How to get licensed for asbestos abatement
(and why it’s so important to do so before removing any asbestos).
While asbestos grows naturally in rocks and soil, its fibers have proven to be deadly when inhaled or ingested. Those who’ve come into contact with asbestos in the workplace or in their personal lives often develop life-threatening conditions, including mesothelioma, thyroid, kidney, ovarian and lung cancers, chronic breathing issues (i.e., asthma, emphysema and COPD) and other diseases that greatly reduce quality of life and eventually lead to death.
U.S. regulations on asbestos included banning many asbestos products. But not all asbestos is banned.
In 1979, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced its intent to regulate asbestos under the Toxic Substances Control Act and a decade later, after significant pushback from Canada (the largest exporter of asbestos) and the asbestos industry, this was finally accomplished.
Nevertheless, some of the damage had already been done. Millions of people were exposed to asbestos and developed asbestos-related diseases.
Asbestos is an ongoing health problem.
A major component of the construction industry, there were tons of buildings that had been erected with asbestos inside and out. It had also been used in a wealth of different industries, making its way into common household items.
Many buildings still contain asbestos, and because of its widespread use, people continue to get sick to this day.
These tiny, microscopic fibers have no taste, and there is no asbestos smell. When they are sucked into the body, they get trapped in the lungs until an individual develops a disease, which can take many years. In fact, the American Lung Association notes that there is a risk that once inhaled, some asbestos fibers will never leave the body.2
Asbestos abatement is important to prevent exposure.
Asbestos removal can be dangerous and result in you inhaling harmful asbestos fibers.
The health threat asbestos poses is ongoing and efforts to remove it from structures and to eliminate it in products continue. This means, asbestos remediation is in high great demand, and can be a very lucrative career choice for those who choose to take it on.
While risky, there are stringent precautions taken in this line of work to ensure the safety of those involved. Many enjoy the undertaking simply because it’s making a difference for the public at large.
Where, Exactly, is Asbestos in Homes and Other Structures?
When we discuss remediation, we’re focusing on the removal of asbestos in buildings.
Most buildings constructed before the mid-1980s contain asbestos because it was valued for its fire resistance and durability. Like the use of lead paint prior to its ban 1978, those who were involved in the building process back in the day had no idea the choices they were making would cause such significant damage.
Asbestos is still in many old buildings.
Asbestos was revered for its ability to adequately insulate a home, keeping it comfortable temperature-wise. And not only was it tucked into walls, asbestos was also commonly used in all of the following:
- Ceiling tiles
- Popcorn ceilings (asbestos in popcorn ceiling testing is VERY common)
- Asphalt roof shingles
- Some textured paints
- Asbestos on carpet or in carpet underlays
- Vinyl floor tiles
Many of these materials are interior finishes, leaving occupants directly exposed.
Most buildings constructed before the mid-1980s contained asbestos-containing products or materials of some kind.
Many people who worked in construction or demolition before the mid-1980s were exposed to asbestos.
Even remodeling an older building can expose you to asbestos.
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Professional Asbestos Removal Certification: What it Takes and Why It’s Important
It is unwise to ignore the risks associated with direct exposure to asbestos in a home or in any other type of building. However, it’s equally as dangerous to try remediating without the help of a professional or without at least receiving the proper training.
The dangers of do-it-yourself asbestos abatement
Trying to simply paint over materials with asbestos in them, tear these materials out of walls or bury them in the ground (which is not illegal, by the way) does not count as proper remediation, and this may not only be harmful for the homeowner’s health, but expose them to legal issues.
Taking a building sample for testing can expose you to harmful asbestos fibers.
It is possible to self-test a sample of the construction material in question by following very specific steps. However, working with a professional is by far the best way to go.
Trying to follow a very regimented step-by-step process leaves room for error and error could mean accidental exposure. And the National Cancer Institute states that “there is no safe level of asbestos exposure.”3
Proper protective equipment, tools and techniques are vital to prevent accidental exposure to asbestos to anyone in the vicinity.
Professionals are highly trained to remove asbestos from an area the right way. If you plan to hire a remediation company, always do your research and ask for its credentials to avoid a disaster along the way. If you’d rather become certified yourself, there are a few things you’ll have to do.
Understanding your local laws about asbestos abatement.
Each state has different requirements, so the first step is to determine what your state requires. The EPA also mandates that anyone looking to become certified participate in a training program with a provider that offers EPA- or state-approved courses in line with the Asbestos Model Accreditation Plan.
These trainings must cover content in five disciplinary areas: Asbestos Abatement Worker, Asbestos Abatement Supervisor, Inspector, Management Planner and Project Designer. Upon successful completion, you will receive a certificate that can be used when applying for a license (required by most states).
Licensing and working as a professional in asbestos abatement
Once licensed, it is important to obtain an insurance policy just in case something goes wrong during the removal process. Allowing asbestos to leak into the air or a water supply can cause substantial harm and it’s important to be protected.
Asbestos abatement involves risk, even for a licensed asbestos removal contractor.
There is occupational licensing for asbestos removal for a reason. This is not something to be taken lightly. Protecting yourself against accidental exposure versus half-heartedly undergoing a remediation project could be a matter of life or death.
If you may have been exposed to asbestos, speak with your healthcare provider about tests and screening to help detect the presence of asbestos fibers and asbestos-related damage.
AsbestosClaims.law is your comprehensive resource for all things asbestos. We hope this information helps you.
If you believe that your home was contaminated with asbestos, you could be entitled to significant compensation—money you could use to cover the costs of asbestos removal services, pay for medical treatment, and preemptively protect your physical well-being.
In addition to legal claims, veterans disability, social security and employment protection like workers compensation, FELA and The Jones Act for maritime workers, there are asbestos trusts that have been set up to compensate those harmed by asbestos without having to file a lawsuit.
If you have any additional questions or concerns related to asbestos, including testing for exposure or how to file a claim, please get in touch by email at [email protected], or call or text us at (833) 4-ASBESTOS (427-2378) or (206) 455-9190.
Frost, G., Harding, AH., Darnton, A. et al. Occupational exposure to asbestos and mortality among asbestos removal workers: a Poisson regression analysis. Br J Cancer 99, 822–829 (2008). https://doi.org/10.1038/sj.bjc.6604564.
1 National Cancer Institute (NIH), Asbestos Fact Sheet.
3 National Cancer Institute (NIH), Asbestos Fact Sheet.