An asbestos removal contractor is a specialized contractor certified by the state or Environmental Protection Agency in the removal of asbestos from buildings. Not all building contractors are certified for such work, and in most states, the contractor must be certified.
Asbestos is a substance commonly used as a building material from the late 19th century through the 1970’s. It was used widespread as an insulation material due to its heat resistance properties. It had been used in various forms since ancient times. In the late 1970’s, studies demonstrated that asbestos became toxic when the tiny fibers hit the air, and it became especially toxic when inhaled. It has been known to cause cancer and asbestosis. Since asbestos in the air cannot be detected by eye contact, people in proximity of airborne asbestos often do not know they are inhaling it.
Because of its widespread use and presence in a multitude of buildings, removal became a concern. Due to its toxic properties when airborne, exacting techniques and procedures were required to be developed for removal. Disposal methods also were developed and approved disposal sites were created.
Procedures specific to the asbestos removal industry are employed by qualified contractors. These procedures include enclosure of the entire worksite, techniques for moisturizing the material to prevent particles from entering the air, as well as approved clothing and respirator use. Friable asbestos, or that which can be crumbled by hand, is the most dangerous, and requires the most precaution to remove.
As with the difficulty in removal, the disposal of asbestos has also required close monitoring by the Environmental Protection Agency and state agencies. All materials must be properly sealed and enclosed in approved containers, and can only be delivered to sites approved for its acceptance.
Asbestos Removal Contractors
All qualified asbestos contractors will have the requisite education and training provided by the EPA or the state in which they do business. Contractors are trained in identifying different forms of asbestos, testing and inspection methods, containment of the work area, isolation of materials, and disposal procedures. In many states, contractors are issued a written examination before certification is permitted. Not only must the contractor be certified, but the employees of the contractor must go through required training.
Contractors are almost always required to carry Workers Compensation insurance for their workers, and may be required to carry liability insurance. Always ask for verification of insurance when interviewing or hiring an asbestos contractor. The applicable state or local agency will identify the types of insurance required for removal contractors.
In some states, a general contractor may be permitted to perform limited removal, but normally, removal of any amount over 100-200 linear feet of material requires removal certification. A contractor that has experienced renovations of buildings with asbestos can recommend a qualified asbestos contractor. If not, the building owner can obtain a list from the state licensing agency. The Environmental Protection Agency may be able to identify contractors in the area in which the building is located. It contains a list of the states requiring certification and may be contacted at 202-554-1404.
Asbestos Removal Contractor Fees
Contractor fees are often expensive, due to the education, training and equipment involved. Qualified contractors will be required to perform a visual inspection before fees can be determined. Factors influencing the fee will include the amount of asbestos to be removed, whether it is friable or non-friable, access to the hazardous materials and the cost of disposal. In some cases, the asbestos will not need be removed, and may be sealed using approved sealants or encapsulated. Only a qualified asbestos contractor, with approval from the appropriate government agency can make this determination.
Costs can range from several hundred dollars for an inspection and testing of materials, to tens of thousands of dollars for removal and disposal. A qualified contractor can recommend the most cost efficient method to abate the asbestos threat. If a residential home, it is not recommended that the homeowner attempt removal without the use of a contractor. In commercial buildings, government agencies do not permit owner removal and a qualified contractor must be retained.