August 2022 CAI-NJ

Dangers of Asbestos in Communities By Bruce Wolf, Garden State Environmental

T o many property managers, asbestos may seem like “old news.” After all, it made the headlines in the 1970’s through the 1990’s as schools, property managers, corporations, construction companies, homeowners and public health officials struggled to deal with this pervasive “man-made” health threat. While many millions of pounds of asbestos have been removed, in many cases removal costs were prohibitive or not necessary at that time. For example, as allowed by federal and state law, many building owners chose to leave asbestos containing building materials (ACBM) 1. Conditions Change – Buildings get older and leaks, accidents and maintenance events occur; increasing the chance that ACBMs, which were previously in good condition, will become a risk to building occupants as they deteriorate and release invisible but dangerous asbestos fibers into the air. 2. Renovations or Demolition – As building improvements or replacements are planned, known or suspected, ACBM may be disturbed. That requires pre-disturbance confirmation testing and possibly abatement by a licensed asbestos abatement contractor in accordance with federal and state regulations. in place or were not aware of hidden ACBM. Why still worry about asbestos?

3. Sale of Property – Buyers certainly do not want to pur chase an asbestos contaminated building. Identification and abatement of asbestos (and other environmental hazards such as lead paint, PCBs, mold and radon) is more cost effectively handled in advance before the pressure of deadlines emerges. 4. Occupant Concerns – Fear of hazardous exposures to asbestos can become emotional, time consuming and expensive. Understanding the true risks can avert major confrontations and allow the issues to be dealt with in a planned manner. What products contain asbestos? It has been estimated that over 3,000 different types of commercial and building products contain asbestos. In build ings built prior to 1978, asbestos is most commonly found as thermal insulation on boilers and pipes and in vinyl floor tiles (usually 9” x 9” tiles). Unfortunately, it can also be found in many other building materials, which include:

• Blown-in attic insulation • Floor tile glue (mastic) • Ceiling tiles

• Window caulking and glazing • Decorative or insulating panels • Roofing and siding materials



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