Asbestos is a dangerous substance which, when ingested, can cause numerous health problems, including mesothelioma and lung cancer. The safest method of asbestos removal is to hire a professional asbestos abatement team, but if you choose to remove asbestos yourself, specific safety guidelines and precautions must be followed.
Preparing for Asbestos Removal
Prior to undertaking an asbestos removal project, you need to have the substance tested to ensure it is indeed asbestos. You also need to determine whether removal is the best option, since asbestos left alone may not be dangerous, and removal may actually be more hazardous.
Once you decide to remove the asbestos, you need to take the necessary preliminary steps to ensure you can remove it safely. This includes assuring adequate ventilation, obtaining breathing systems that will allow you to remove the asbestos without inhaling fibers, and purchasing special clothing to wear for the removal process. In addition, asbestos removal is at least a two-person job, but it is illegal to hire anyone to remove asbestos other than abatement professionals, so you will need to find someone to help you whom you do not have to "hire." You should not ask anyone with facial hair to assist you, and if you have facial hair you will need to shave it, because facial hair precludes you from taking all the appropriate precautions to ensure you do not inhale asbestos. You also need to ensure that your helpers have appropriate clothing, breathing system, and protective gear.
In addition to protective gear and special clothing, you also need to purchase the appropriate tools for the removal. This includes a hose, a water sprayer, a knife, a pry bar, and dish washing soap.
Finally, you must also be aware of any government regulations regarding asbestos removal, and obtain the requisite permits. Fees for an asbestos removal permit vary by state, and most states also require you to certify that you are taking full responsibility for the dangers of the removal and that you will take appropriate precautions.
Removing the Asbestos
They key to safely removing asbestos is to ensure the asbestos is wet throughout the removal process so that no fibers become airborne and get inhaled accidentally.
You should first use a sprayer and hose to wet down the asbestos. The asbestos should then be carefully scraped into special bags that are designed specifically for asbestos removal. The bags need to be double-sealed. This process is the reason that at least two people are required--one person should be removing the wet asbestos, packing it in the bags, and sealing it, and then she should hand it off to the other person, who should seal the second seal.
Once you believe you have removed all the asbestos, you should wet down the entire room again to ensure no lingering asbestos remains. Remove any lingering asbestos by wetting it and sealing it in bags, including dust particles that remain. Do not sweep or vacuum asbestos dust particles up. After you have finished working on asbestos removal, you also need to thoroughly wet yourself and your clothing down to remove any lingering fibers. Remove your protective clothing and seal that as well. Do not remove your breathing system until all the clothing has been removed and you have been wet down.
Disposing of Removed Asbestos
The asbestos should be sealed into special storage bins in specially designed double-seal bags after removal. The bins should be labeled and promptly taken to an appropriate landfill that is specifically designed for asbestos. You need to find this landfill before you begin the project and notify them regarding the amount of asbestos material you need to dispose of so you ensure they have adequate room.
You will need to get the area checked for asbestos again after removal, to ensure your removal was successful.