Is Do It Yourself Asbestos Removal Legal?

Legality Overview

The DIY procedure for the removal of asbestos is perfectly legal according to the federal laws, provided it is for single family homes. There are no prerequisites for prior training and certification. However, you need to follow the EPA and government regulations for safety and disposal procedures. The state laws may differ for the environmental protection regulations. For example, Texas state law states that you should employ a licensed inspector to inspect your home and identify the sources of contamination. You can check the regulations in your state before proceeding with your works.

You must employ a licensed asbestos removal company, if the removal is for apartments, multifamily residences and commercial buildings.  The following EPA standards apply for the removal procedures (DIY and Licensed contractors).

EPA Safety Standards

  • Personal Safety: The Environment Protection Agency (EPA) and Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) have proposed specific guidelines for the personal safety and health protection while removing asbestos. The standard 29-CFR-1910.134 for safety prescribes the following gear. Negative pressure air purifying respirator (half/full face) with replaceable air filters. The face piece should have positive pressure with an automated low pressure pump (battery operated). The disposable safety hood should be made fire retardant and abrasion resistant synthetic material. The head par should overlap the respirator. The wrists and ankles should be protected with straps. The shoes and hand gloves should be preferably made of fire retardant synthetic and rubber with tight straps.
  • Clean Air: The EPA Clean Air Act (CAA-Section-112) is the guideline for measuring clean air quality prior to removal, during removal and after removal. The permissible asbestos exposure limit is 0.06 particles per cubic meter of air after the removal. You must get it verified and approved by the licensed inspector. The inspection is to be done after 48 hours from the time of complete removal. The inspection during the removal process can also give you the particulates per cubic meter of the air. You should take sufficient preventive measures like air humidification (particulates attach themselves to water molecules and drop down). Water spray, etc. This procedure takes time and patience. You could refer to the DIY guidelines and safety procedures from the EPA and OSHA standards.
  • Clean Water: The asbestos content in water should be zero in the post removal period. Hence, you should use separate sources of water for the wetting, cleaning and other asbestos removal procedures. This water ahs to be disposed along with the debris and other waste Asbestos Containing Material (ACM). The contaminated water should have no contact with other sources of clean water.
  • ACM: According to the EPA standards, any material with more than 1% of asbestos content will be considered as ACM. They are categorized into friable and non-friable classes. Friable materials are highly toxic as they contain fine powder and airborne particulates. The non-friable parts are made of solid /liquid objects that are non-fragile and strong. You should segregate and pack them separately before disposal. The asbestos removal vacuum bags must be made of recycled polythene (from 125-250 microns) or other equivalent synthetic material. Leak-proof bags should be sealed with tapes (nylon threads) and should be water washed (exterior) before being sent for disposal.

Asbestos Containing Materials

  • Roofing: Cement roofs, textured ceiling, roof tiles, sheets, lining, cladding, ceiling pipes, paints, and other roofing materials can be ACM. If the sheets (pure asbestos, cement coated, metal coated, or synthetic coated) are in fragile, decomposed, or damaged condition (with powdered contaminants and dust), they should be wetted (water and wetting agent) before removal. You have to vacuum the ACM and the removal site completely to ensure elimination of powder and small particulates.
  • Flooring: The ACM from the flooring could be asphalt tiles, vinyl, tiles, plasters, insulation, floor packing material, etc. You should follow the similar procedure of wetting, vacuum, segregation, removal and packing.
  • Siding: The siding materials could be cement, metal sheets, paints, plasters, tiles, etc.
  • Paints: Asbestos could be an integral part of the paints or it could be generated from the chemical reaction between the paint and the painted surfaces. The content could be as high as 5% and above. You must remove the long time unused and waste paints from your premises, besides removing the old paints from the surfaces of roofs, ceilings, walls and floors.
  • Pipes: Degenerated and damages pipes have to be removed (preferably with hand tools to avoid higher intensity damages and powdering). Pack all the ACM after water treatment and segregation of ACM into friable and non friable types.
  • Miscellaneous: fabrics, taping compounds, gaskets, upholstery, construction materials, old electrical cables, and fireproofing materials could be ACM. You should avoid using the wetting procedures for ACM near the electrical installations.

Asbestos Disposal Standards

  • Friable Asbestos: Any ACM that contains air polluting asbestos fiber is considered to be friable, if it can be crushed into powder form by applying low intensity pressure (like your hands).
  • Non-Friable Asbestos: materials that don’t crush or powder at low pressure are considered to be the non-friable asbestos. You should wash them, cut them (manual tools in case the size is too big to fit into disposable bags) and pack them in disposable bags.
  • Disposing Sites: Transportation and disposal of asbestos containing materials have to be done after labeling the bags in enclosed trucks. Most commonly used method is the landfill. Here you may need to take the help of professional contactors, as they are aware of the legally allocated landfills by the local and state governments in your region. For example, you can find such sites in privately owned lands by the contractors or those in their networks.      

Safest Way to Handle Asbestos

Even though the DIY asbestos removal s legal, it may not be safe if you don’t know the risks and the procedures to conform to the safety and environmental protection guidelines. Hence, the expert and EPA recommended method is to hire a licensed asbestos removal contractor.

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