Feb. 9, 2019

Hazards of Asbestos in Homes

Many homeowners in Bend do not realize the serious health related risks of asbestos exposure. They will simply reason that a one-time removal of asbestos containing materials from their house cannot pose that great of a risk. Although no governmental agency can prevent a homeowner from doing his/her own asbestos removal work, the homeowner should, at a minimum, follow the following procedures that will minimize their potential exposure to friable asbestos:

  • Seal off the work area with plastic sheeting and duct tape

  • Do not track asbestos dust into areas of the house outside of the sealed off work area

  • Do not dust, sweep, or vacuum particles containing asbestos fibers. The dust should be removed by a wet mop procedure

  • Wet the asbestos containing material with a hand sprayer using a fine mist. The addition of a small amount of low-sudsing dish or laundry soap will assist the water in penetrating the asbestos containing material

  • An approved respirator, protective gloves, hats, and clothing should be worn. The clothing and protective gear should be disposed of after use in the sealed off area

  • The removed asbestos containing material should be placed in plastic trash bags and disposed of in approved landfills following Department of Environmental Quality disposal procedures

  • The sealed off area should be mopped at least two times prior to removal of the plastic sheeting which was used to isolate the area containing the asbestos material. The mops, rags, or sponges used in the cleanup process should be put into plastic trash bags and disposed of in approved landfills.

  • From the buyer's standpoint, the mere presence of asbestos should not be the reason for not proceeding with the house purchase. Only when the total abatement program and the cost to abate is analyzed in terms of the overall transaction, should the decision to purchase or not to purchase be made. The licensee should not recommend to the buyer the actual course of actions that should be followed. However, the licensee may be able to help the buyer evaluate the asbestos issue by keeping in mind the following evaluation points:

    • Asbestos containing materials found on the outside of the house (such as siding and roofing) do not present a real health hazard.

    • Asbestos containing materials found in the inside of the house should be evaluated in terms of location, condition, quantity and friability.

    • If the material containing asbestos is in good condition, there should be little concern.

    • If the material containing asbestos is in a deteriorated state and is obviously friable, then the cost to repair or remove the material should be considered.

    • If there are plans to remodel the house, an evaluation of the potential materials containing asbestos should be conducted along with a consideration of removal or removal alternatives.

    • Asbestos containing materials that become friable should be deemed a serious potential health hazard.

    • The costs of removal or alternative abatement methods should be considered. If the costs are found too high, refusal to purchase may be the only solution for some home buyers. The home buyer might also consider asking the seller to reduce the price of the property to compensate for the costs of asbestos abatement.

    • If removal of asbestos containing materials or disturbing of asbestos containing materials is to occur, the home owner is advised to:

      • Hire a licensed asbestos abatement contractor; or

      • Follow all state and federal guidelines for handling asbestos containing materials and the disposal of the materials if an election is made to abate the problem without using licensed professionals. If this election is made, the homeowner should be reminded that any exposure to asbestos is considered a health risk. This risk then must be knowingly assumed.

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