FAQ, Definitions & Resources
What is Asbestos?
Asbestos refers to six naturally occurring fibrous minerals that have the ability to resist heat, fire and electricity. Although asbestos fibers are microscopic in nature, they are extremely durable and resistant to fire and most chemical reactions and breakdowns. These properties of asbestos supported its use for many years in a number of different commercial and industrial settings, as well as in a wide range of consumer products. Although its use has diminished in recent decades, there are still many products that contain asbestos, especially in older homes, schools, and public buildings.
What are some examples of materials that contain asbestos?
Until an asbestos building inspection has been conducted, asbestos is presumed to be present in almost all building materials. This includes, but is not limited to, pipe insulation (including the wrap on fiberglass insulation), spray-on fireproofing, floor tile, ceiling tile, duct wrap, hard and soft plaster, drywall joint compound, ceramic tile bedding compound, glazing and caulks, light reflector paper, mastics, vermiculite insulation (in exterior walls and attics) and roofing materials. For more information on asbestos and asbestos products, see the EPA asbestos home page.
What do the federal, state, and local regulations typically entail?
The regulations typically require that notifications be submitted to the appropriate government agencies before the work begins. There is often a fee that must be paid to a state or local government agency. There are stringent requirements regarding work practices, waste disposal, and recordkeeping.
What are the health risks associated with asbestos?
Asbestos is a known carcinogen and breathing in asbestos fibers can cause asbestosis, lung cancer and mesothelioma. The risk of contracting these diseases increases with the number of fibers inhaled, and the risk of lung cancer from inhaling asbestos fibers is also greater if you smoke.
How do I know if I have asbestos in my home (in floor tile, ceiling tile, shingles, siding, etc.)?
The only way to be sure whether a material contains asbestos is to have it tested by a qualified laboratory. EPA only recommends testing suspect materials if they are damaged (fraying, crumbling) or if you are planning a renovation that would disturb the suspect material. Samples should be taken by a properly trained and accredited asbestos building inspector.
Do I have to leave my home during the abatement process?
In most instances, you may remain in your home, but for your own safety, and per local agency regulations, you cannot be within the containment area where the work is being performed.
I am going to perform a renovation or demolition to my building. Is there anything I should know about asbestos before I begin my project?
The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) National Emission Standards for Hazardous Air Pollutants (NESHAP) requires that you perform a survey to determine the presence of asbestos in your building before doing a renovation or demolition. You must also notify before you start such a project. In Washington you must notify the Washington Department of State Health Services. Washington also has rules that pertain to public buildings that require similar notification as the NESHAP and further requirements such as licensed persons to perform the survey and to remove the asbestos.
Can I bring you samples to test?
If you live in and own the home, you may take your own samples for the purposes of getting them tested for asbestos containing materials. However, if you own the house, but rent it to someone else, or if you own it and share it with someone else, you are not legally allowed to take your own samples. And even if you are the homeowner and living in the home, it’s not recommended that you take your own samples. Asbestos fibers could be released into the air without you noticing. It’s best to hire an AHERA certified building inspector to take the samples for you and get it to the laboratory for testing.
Can I remove asbestos myself?
Unless you are an AHERA certified abatement contractor, you should never attempt to remove asbestos yourself. It’s best to call a licensed and experienced professional like Tacoma Abatement Company to safely remove the asbestos-containing materials from your property.
Do you offer free estimates?
Yes! Call us today to schedule a walkthrough.
How much do you charge, and can I get a quote over the phone?
Due to the variations in the scope of work, we can rarely give quotes sight unseen. It’s best to schedule a time for us to walk the job and look at the entire space in order to give an accurate quote. The costs associated with asbestos removal can vary based on the size of the project, the amount of asbestos being removed, and the time required to perform the removal. Costs should include labor, air monitoring and waste disposal. The cost can be higher or lower based on how complicated the project is. We have an $800 minimum.
How does billing work?
Whether you are going through your insurance company or working with us directly, we can accommodate. We have vast experience working with the insurance industry. We accept checks or credit cards. The size or length of the project may require a 50% downpayment.
What is your service area?
We serve all of Washington state. Contact us to discuss.
How far out are you scheduling jobs?
Most jobs require a 10 to 14 day waiting period after the notification has been filed with either Puget Sound Clean Air Agency or Olympic Region Clean Air Agency. Emergency jobs or small jobs (less than 48 SF) can usually be scheduled sooner than this if our schedule allows. Please contact our office for more information.
Where can I get more information?
Click on our Other Resources tab to learn more.
- Abatement The ending, reduction, or lessening of something.
- AHERA Asbestos Hazard Emergency Response Act
- AHERA Certified Building Inspector A person who has successfully completed the training requirements for a building inspector established by the EPA Asbestos Model Accreditation Plan.
- Asbestos The asbestiform varieties of actinolite, amosite, tremolite, chrysotile, crocidolite, or anthophyllite. Any of these minerals that readily separate into long flexible fibers, that cause asbestosis and have been implicated as causes of certain cancers, and that have been used especially formerly as fireproofing insulating materials.
- Asbestos Project Any activity involving the abatement, renovation, demolition, removal, salvage, cleanup, or disposal of friable asbestos-containing material. It includes the removal and disposal of stored, friable, asbestos-containing material or asbestos-containing waste material. It does not include the application of duct tape, rewettable glass cloth, canvas, cement, paint, or other non-asbestos materials to seal or fill exposed areas where asbestos fibers may be released.
- Asbestos Containing Material (ACM) Any material containing more than one percent (1%) asbestos as determined using the method specified in EPA regulations Appendix E, Subpart E, 40 CFR Part 763, Section 1, Polarized Light Microscopy.
- Asbestos Survey A written report describing an inspection using the procedures contained in EPA regulations to determine whether materials or structures to be worked on, renovated, removed, or demolished (including materials on the outside of structures) contain asbestos.
- Building/Facility/Vessel Owner Any legal entity or person who owns any public or private building, vessel, structure, facility, or mechanical system or the remnants thereof, including the agent of such person, but does not include individuals who work on asbestos projects in their own single-family residences, no part of which is used for commercial purposes. Also included is any lessee, who exercises control over management and record keeping functions relating to a building, vessel, and/or facility in which activities covered by this standard takes place.
- Certified Asbestos Supervisor An individual certified by the department under WAC 296-65-012.
- Certified Asbestos Worker An individual certified by the department under WAC 296-65-010.
- Certified Industrial Hygienist One certified in the practice of industrial hygiene by the American Board of Industrial Hygiene. A professional qualified by education, training, and experience to anticipate, recognize, evaluate and develop controls for occupational health hazards.
- Class I Asbestos Work Activities involving the removal of thermal system insulation or surfacing asbestos-containing material or presumed asbestos-containing material.
- Class II Asbestos Work Activities involving the removal of asbestos-containing material which is not thermal system insulation or surfacing material. This includes, but is not limited to, the removal of asbestos-containing wallboard, floor tile and sheeting, roofing and siding shingles, and construction mastic.
- Class III Asbestos work Repair and maintenance operations where “ACM,” including “TSI” and surfacing “ACM” and “PACM” may be disturbed.
- Class IV Asbestos work Maintenance and custodial activities during which employees contact but do not disturb ACM or PACM and activities to clean up dust, waste and debris resulting from Class I, II, and III activities.
- Clean Room An uncontaminated room having facilities for the storage of employees’ street clothing and uncontaminated materials and equipment.
- Component Any equipment, pipe, structural member, or other item covered or coated with, or manufactured from, asbestos-containing material.
- Critical Barrier One or more layers of plastic sealed over all openings into a work area or any other similarly placed physical barrier sufficient to prevent airborne asbestos in a work area from migrating to an adjacent area.
- Decontamination Area An enclosed area adjacent and connected to the regulated area and consisting of an equipment room, shower area, and clean room, which is used for the decontamination of workers, materials, and equipment contaminated with asbestos.
- Demolition Wrecking, razing, leveling, dismantling, or burning of a structure, making the structure permanently uninhabitable or unusable.
- Disturb or Disturbance Refers to activities that disrupt the matrix of ACM or PACM, crumble or pulverize ACM or PACM, or generate visible debris from ACM or PACM.Disturbance includes cutting away small amounts of ACM or PACM, no greater than the amount that can be contained in one standard size glove bag or waste bag in order to access a building or vessel component. In no event shall the amount of ACM or PACM so disturbed exceed that which can be contained in one glove bag or waste bag which shall not exceed 60 inches in length and width.
- Encapsulation Treatment of asbestos-containing materials with a sealant material that surrounds or embeds asbestos fibers in an adhesive matrix to prevent the release of fibers.
- Fiber A particulate form of asbestos, five micrometers or longer, with a length-to-diameter ratio of at least three to one.
- Friable, Asbestos Containing Material Asbestos-containing material that, when dry, can be crumbled, pulverized, or reduced to powder by hand pressure or by the forces expected to act upon the material in the course of demolition, renovation, or disposal. Such materials include, but are not limited to, thermal system insulation, surfacing material, and cement asbestos products.
- Glove Bag Not more than a 60 x 60 inch impervious plastic bag-like enclosure affixed around an asbestos-containing material, with glove-like appendages through which material and tools may be handled.
- High Efficiency Particulate Air (HEPA) Filter A filter capable of trapping and retaining at least 99.97 percent of all monodispersed particles of 0.3 micrometers mean aerodynamic diameter or larger.
- Homogenous Area An area of surfacing material or thermal system insulation that is uniform in color and texture.
- Intact The ACM has not crumbled, been pulverized, or otherwise deteriorated so that the asbestos is no longer likely to be bound with its matrix. Friable ACM that is disturbed, as defined in this part, is presumed to be no longer intact.
- Lead Paint Abatement The process of safely reducing lead paint hazards. Can be very dangerous if done improperly.
- Lead Paint Stabilization An interim control method meant to temporarily reduce exposure to lead paint hazards.
- Leak-Tight Container A dust-tight and liquid-tight container, at least 6-mil thick, that encloses asbestos-containing waste material and prevents solids or liquids from escaping or spilling out. Such containers may include sealed plastic bags, metal or fiber drums, and sealed polyethylene plastic.
- Mesothelioma A rare, aggressive form of cancer that develops in the lining of the lungs, abdomen, or heart. Caused by asbestos. Mesothelioma has no known cure and has a very poor prognosis.
- Mold A crumbling soft friable earth suited to plant growth. The four factors that are necessary for mold to thrive are moisture, food, correct temperature, and spores.
- Negative Air Machine A machine that uses ducting to remove contaminated air from a sealed containment area. The filtered air is exhausted outside of the containment area. This creates negative air pressure (a vacuum effect), which helps limit the spread of contaminants to other areas inside the structure.
- Nonfriable, Asbestos Containing Material Asbestos-containing material that, when dry, cannot be crumbled, pulverized, or reduced to powder by hand pressure or by the forces expected to act on the material in the course of demolition, renovation, or disposal.
- Presumed Asbestos Containing Materials (PACM) Presumed asbestos-containing material.
- Permissible Exposure Limit (PEL) A regulatory limit on the amount or concentration of a substance in the air, usually based on an eight-hour time weighted average.
- Pressure Demand Respirator These types of respirators supply clean air to the wearer through a hose or other delivery mechanism. This air supply maintains a positive pressure within the respiratory inlet covering. It is designed to maintain a higher level of air pressure inside the facepiece than in the ambient environment at all times. The device maintains this pressure imbalance by responding to drops in pressure caused by the wearer's inhalation.
- Regulated Area an area established by the employer to demarcate areas where Class I, II, and III asbestos work is conducted, and any adjoining area where debris and waste from such asbestos work accumulate; and a work area within which airborne concentrations of asbestos, exceed or can reasonably be expected to exceed the permissible exposure limit. Requirements for regulated areas are set out in WAC 296-62-07711.
- Removal All operations where ACM and/or PACM is taken out or stripped from structures or substrates, and includes demolition operations.
- Remediation Abatement, cleanup, or other method to contain or remove a hazardous substance from an environment.
- Renovation Altering a facility or a component in any way, except demolition.
- Repair Overhauling, rebuilding, reconstructing, or reconditioning of vessel sections, structures or substrates.
- Single-Family Residence Any non-multiple unit building containing space for uses such as living, sleeping, preparation of food, and eating that is used by one family who owns the property as their domicile. This term includes houses, mobile homes, trailers, detached garages, houseboats, and houses with a “mother-in-law apartment” or “guest room”. This term does not include rental property or multiple-family units, nor does this term include any mixed-use building, structure, or installation that contains a residential unit.
- Surfacing Material Material that is sprayed-on, troweled-on, or otherwise applied to surfaces including, but not limited to, acoustical plaster on ceilings, paints, fireproofing materials on structural members, or other materials on surfaces for decorative purposes.
- Surfacing ACM Surfacing material which contains more than 1% asbestos.
- Suspect Asbestos-Containing Material Material that has historically contained asbestos including, but not limited to, surfacing material, thermal system insulation, roofing material (excluding asphalt shingles), fire barriers, gaskets, flooring material, and cement siding.
- Thermal Systems Insulation (TSI) Material applied to pipes, fittings, boilers, tanks, ducts, or other structural components to prevent heat loss or gain.
- Type C Respirator A respirator for entry into and escape from atmospheres not immediately dangerous to life or health, which consists of a source of respirable breathing air, a hose, a detachable coupling, a control valve, orifice, a demand valve or pressure demand valve, and arrangement for attaching the hose to the wearer and a facepiece, hood, or helmet.
- EPA Asbestos Home Page https://www.epa.gov/asbestos
- EPA Asbestos Laws and Regulations https://www.epa.gov/asbestos/asbestos-laws-and-regulations
- L&I Asbestos Page http://www.lni.wa.gov/tradeslicensing/licensingreq/asbestos/
- Southwest Clean Air Agency Asbestos Page http://www.swcleanair.org/asbestos/index.asp
- Puget Sound Clean Air Agency Asbestos Page https://www.pscleanair.org/185/Asbestos
- The Olympic Region Clean Air Agency (ORCAA) Asbestos and Demolition Page https://www.orcaa.org/services/asbestos-and-demolition/
- Southwest Clean Air Agency http://www.swcleanair.org
- Link to Specific WISHA Statute http://lni.wa.gov/TradesLicensing/LicensingReq/Asbestos/default.asp#2