Nebraska (NE) Asbestos Removal & Abatement Resources:

The Nebraska Department of Health and Human Services defines asbestos as "Asbestos is the name that is used for a group of six different fibrous minerals (amosite, chrysotile, crocidolite, and the fibrous varieties of tremolite, actinolite, and anthophyllite) that occur naturally in soil and rocks in some areas" (2). Since its fibers are resistant to heat and chemicals, asbestos was commonly used in building materials to create strong, fireproof, insulating products (2).  Some of the products that Nebraska recognizes as common uses of asbestos are acoustic insulators, thermal insulation, fire proofing and in other building material.  Most of the products in use today are materials used in heat and acoustic insulation, fireproofing, and roofing and flooring (4).  Some of the more common products that may contain asbestos include: ceiling tiles, adhesives, caulking, carpets, fire doors, decorative plaster, and a variety of other products (4).  The Nebraska Department of health notes that asbestos fibers can become airborne when asbestos-containing products deteriorate or are disturbed (2). Unfortunately, asbestos has been classified as a human carcinogen, and once these fibers are airborne, they can be inhaled into the lung tissue, where they remain permanently (2). High levels of asbestos exposure can lead to asbestosis and mesothelioma (2).  Both of these diseases are potentially fatal (2).  For this reason, demolition or renovation projects, which can damage asbestos containing products, can increase the risk of serious exposure to asbestos fibers (2).  Before beginning the demolition or renovation project of anything other than a homeowner’s residential property of fewer than four units, it is required that the property is thoroughly inspected for asbestos-containing material by a Nebraska certified inspector (1).

Asbestos Professionals

Because of the carcinogenic nature of asbestos, all asbestos workers, asbestos supervisors, asbestos project designers, asbestos inspectors, asbestos project monitors, and asbestos management planners must complete rigorous training to apply for certification (3).  Before participating in any asbestos project, all workers must be Nebraska certified (3).  Since each kind of asbestos professional have different levels of responsibility and some handle the dangerous substance more closely than others, the content of the training courses varies in length and intensity (3). For example the course content for general asbestos workers must include the physical characteristics of asbestos, the health effects related to asbestos, employee personal protective equipment, state-of-the-art work practices, personal hygiene, additional safety hazards, medical monitoring, relevant federal, Nebraska, and local regulatory requirements and standards, and respiratory protection programs and medical surveillance programs (3).  The course for asbestos supervisors includes all of the content of the asbestos worker course plus insurance and liability issues, record keeping for asbestos projects, supervisory techniques, and contract specifications (3). The others vary according to their special requirements (3). To pass the course, all trainees must prove proficiency in their areas of training by passing an exam ranging from 50 to 100 multiple choice questions with a score of at least 70 percent (3). Once certified, all asbestos professionals must complete annual training courses and pay an annual fee for insurance and renewal ranging from $51 to $151 depending on the worker’s title (3).
 
The Abatement Process

Site Preparation:

Before beginning abatement, the removal site must be adequately prepared to uphold the strictest levels of safety.  To start with, the area must be roped off 25 feet outside the perimeter with warning signs at all possible points of entry (3).  Signs must read: "DANGER.  ASBESTOS.  CANCER AND LUNG DISEASE HAZARD. AUTHORIZED PERSONEL ONLY.  RESPIRATORS AND PROTECTIVE CLOTHING ANRE REQUIRED IN THIS AREA" (3). For indoor asbestos abatement, the ventilation unit must be isolated from the work area (3). Inside the work area all removable pieces and fixtures in the area must be cleaned with an approved HEPA vacuum or wet cleaning methods (3).  Clean, moveable objects should then be placed in a separate area, and all fixed objects should be covered tightly (3).  Before beginning, the area must be completely isolated from the outside and the rest of the facility (3).  To do so, the heating, ventilation, and electrical systems must be shut down, temporary airtight barriers must be installed to seal all openings in the area, including windows, doorways and vents, and a control curtain must be installed between the work area and the decontamination unit (3).

The purpose of the decontamination unit is to fully clean all individuals leaving the contaminated unit.  It must consist of a clean room, a shower, a changing room and an equipment room (3).  From the inside of the removal site, it must be set up so that workers first find the equipment room, where they can leave any items that have been contaminated (3).  From there they enter the changing room and shower room, where they are required to fully shower before finally entering the clean room, which is the last room before entering the outside area (3). 

Pre-cleaning

Once the site has been constructed and roped off, the area must be fully prepared.  To begin, all surfaces that are not the subject of removal must be pre-cleaned with a HEPA vacuum filter or wet cleaning and all openings around the structure are sealed off (3).  Floors must be covered with two layers of at least 6 mil plastic and extend 12 inches up the walls (3).  Walls must also be covered with a layer of plastic that overlaps the floor sheeting (3).  At this point HEPA ventilation and air filters must be installed so that the air in the work area is continuously cleaned (3). 

Abatement

When abatement begins, workers must adhere to a number of rules to control the emission of asbestos fibers into the air.  Even though there are many precautions, such as respirators and air filters that keep workers safe, workers still strive to create as little asbestos dust as possible (3).  First, all asbestos-containing materials that are to be removed must be saturated with amended water before it is removed (3).  This eliminates dust particles from escaping into the air.  When it is being removed, workers should remove the material intact, or in as large of pieces as possible, as cutting, sawing, and grinding can cause excess dust to be created (3).  It is also required that asbestos waste be lowered gently, rather than thrown, slid, or dropped to the ground to avoid undue damage (3).  Once removed, the asbestos pieces must be placed into appropriate, airtight containers labeled "DANGER. CONTAINS ASBESTOS FIBERS. AVOID CREATING DUST. CANCER AND LUNG DISEASE HAZARD" (3).

From here, it is the contractor’s responsibility toarrange for the proper disposal of the asbestos waste.  All Nebraska contractors are trained in waste removal procedures and know which sites can be used for this purpose.  If you are planning a demolition or renovation, even on your private home, it is always recommended to have an asbestos inspector test for asbestos containing material before putting your loved ones at risk.  If you plan to demolish or renovate a commercial, industrial, public, or institutional facility, you may be required to hire an inspector prior to the beginning of the project.  In either case, there are many asbestos professionals in Nebraska who can serve your asbestos related needs.

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