(Source: ILC Dover)
If settled and sealed with no risk of exposure, asbestos isn’t a health hazard to your building occupants. But as soon as your drywall or ceiling show cracks or your tiles start moving out
of place, you might run into the risk of asbestos exposure.
In these situations, the asbestos fibers are capable of getting airborne, and as a result, your occupants might inhale them. With prolonged exposure, those asbestos fibers can enter the lungs and cause major health problems, such as scar tissue, breathing issues, and cancer.
Until the late 1980s, builders used asbestos to insulate water and steam pipes. Asbestos was very effective and it was very cheap. Today, if your pipes have an asbestos wrap, you should make sure the wrapping is still intact. As long the wrap is intact, it’s not a risk.
However, if the asbestos wrap is falling off or has cracks, then you’re at risk of exposure. This
is a big problem in industrial buildings where there’s a high chance of such damage due to the presence of heavy machinery and vehicles. Even in residential buildings, water damage could lead to disturbing the asbestos wrap around your pipes.
What are the Health Risks of Asbestos in Piping?
Asbestos is a friable material. This means that someone could easily crush it into dust by hand.
In that dust form, the release of fibers into the air becomes easy, at which point people would inhale it. With prolonged exposure through years (or decades), those asbestos fibers will scar the lung tissue and thicken the outer lining of the lungs (pleural plaques) or create cancerous tumours.
Under the Ontario Occupational Health and Safety Act (OHSA), if the property owner knows (or should know) of exposed asbestos-containing materials (ACM), they need to deal with asbestos through abatement or an asbestos management program (AMP).
Through an AMP, you must get a consultant to inspect your building every year and document all of your ACM. You must also notify your occupants of the presence of asbestos. On the other hand, with asbestos abatement, you’re removing the asbestos from your pipes.
Damaged Asbestos Pipe Wraps Will
Push Your Property Value Down
How to Remove Asbestos Pipe Insulation
To remove asbestos from pipes, you’re looking at one of three types of operations: Type 1 (10 square feet or under), Type 2 (10-100 square feet), and Type 3 (100+ square feet).
With a Type 1 project, you might be able to use an oversized glove bag that wraps around the section of the pipe which has asbestos.
It works almost like a baby incubator; there are gloves tubes connected to the bag through which you can take the asbestos wrap out by hand. You can use a wrap for several areas of your pipe at a time, but in general, it’s only useful for removing small amounts of asbestos.
Need More Help on Asbestos Removal Projects?
- When is Asbestos Testing Required?
- Ontario’s Asbestos Removal & Disposal Regulations
- What are the Types of Asbestos Removal?
For Type 2 and Type 3 projects, you need a professional asbestos abatement contractor who will prevent contamination and other risks. For example, they’ll set-up barriers around the work area, reverse the airflow, and use HEPA vacuums to stop the fibers from spreading to other areas.
Your contractor will also keep its workers safe by giving them special protective gear, such as oxygen masks and gloves. They’ll also give their workers a decontamination site to remove all
of the asbestos from themselves before leaving the work site.
Yes, Type 2 and Type 3 operations are costly, but they’re a necessary and worthwhile investment. Not only do they remove the risk of any further asbestos exposure in your building, but by doing so, you’ll increase the value of your property.
For example, if you have damaged asbestos pipe wraps, the building buyer might ask you to reduce the price of the building so that they can carry out the abatement work. Likewise, if you have signs warning people of asbestos, they might not become your tenants.
Work with FERRO Environmental to restore and increase your property value by removing damaged asbestos pipe insulation wrapping. Call us today to get started.