South Carolina (SC) Asbestos Removal & Abatement Resources:
The South Carolina Department of Health recognizes asbestos as "a group of minerals that break apart into very fine, strong fibers and is found worldwide in certain types of rocks" (1). Asbestos has been used in the United States in the construction of many homes, factories, schools and public buildings since the fibers are not affected by heat or chemicals and they do not conduct electricity (1). Some of the more frequently uses for asbestos-containing materials that South Carolina recognizes are insulating walls and heating pipes, soundproofing rooms, and giving paints texture (1). Despite the properties that make asbestos a good building product, since the early 1970s, the Environmental Protection Agency has listed asbestos as an unsafe air pollutant (1). When asbestos-containing materials are disturbed, such as in a demolition or renovation, asbestos fibers can become airborne, where they can easily be inhaled or ingested (1). Once ingested, asbestos fibers can cause serious health problems, such as asbestosis, and cancer of the esophagus, colon, pancreas, or stomach (1). Sometimes, these symptoms may take twenty to forty years to develop in a patient, and by that time, there is often little that doctors can do (1). To make matters worse, once asbestos fibers are released into the air, they can remain airborne for weeks, and if asbestos is not removed properly, it can pollute a building permanently, as the fibers may be re-released into the air each time dust becomes unsettled (1). Although it is not illegal for private homeowners consisting of fewer than four dwellings to handle asbestos in their own homes, asbestos removal is regulated in other facilities, including industrial, public, commercial, and institutional buildings, and even private homeowners are strongly encouraged to hire professionals for asbestos-related activities (1).
According to South Carolina State law, no person or contractor may engage in any asbestos project without proper licensing (2). In South Carolina, asbestos professionals are separated into six groups, each of which has specific duties and responsibilities (2). These six groups include contractors, supervisors, workers, air samplers, project designers, building inspectors, and management planners (2). No worker may perform any duties that are outside of their field without dual licensing. To receive a license, each worker must attend a rigorous course and pass at least one written examination at a certified establishment (2). Following this, all applicants must submit a completed application and a color passport photo for approval (2). Once a worker is licensed, his or her license expires in one year, forcing workers to attend annual refresher courses specific to their discipline and they must again pass an examination with at least a score of 70 percent(2) . If more than two years pass after a license has expired, the worker must complete the initial training again to become recertified (2). This rigorous initial training and frequent refresher training keeps asbestos workers up-to-date on the newest safety regulations and work practices (2). All licensed asbestos professionals keep safety as their primary concern, and they adhere to all laws and regulations to keep themselves, others, and the environment safe from asbestos exposure.
General Requirements for Asbestos Abatement Projects
To ensure maximum safety, there are a number of general requirements that asbestos professionals must abide by to ensure that there are as few airborne asbestos fibers as possible (2). Before beginning a renovation or a demolition of a regulated building, an inspection must be completed by a licensed inspector to identify, locate, and estimate the quantity of any asbestos-containing material that may be disturbed within three years prior to the beginning of the project (2). A licensed project designer must plan the design for asbestos removal that is greater than 3,000 square, 1,500 linear, or 656 cubic feet of regulated asbestos-containing material (2). When asbestos removal is taking place, it is important that are no visible emissions during preparation, removal, or cleanup (2). First, containment and decontamination units must be established to keep all potential asbestos fibers confined to the containment area (2). To limit the amount of asbestos that becomes airborne, all asbestos-containing materials that are to be handled must be wetted and remain wet until they are bagged appropriately, and air monitoring must be performed at regular intervals (2).
After the removal is complete, the area must be cleaned using wet methods and amended water (2). Once the surfaces are dry, the area must be vacuumed using a vacuum with HEAP cartridges or filter (2). This sequence of wet cleaning and vacuuming is repeated until there is no visible residue (2). For all porous surfaces that have been subject to removal, an encapsulant must be applied to prevent any further exposure to asbestos fibers (2). From there, it is necessary for the proper disposal of the asbestos waste. The disposal and transport of this waste is also strictly regulated. For example, to properly transport materials, they must be transported in a way that does not release asbestos fibers into the air and they must be transported to a landfill that is approved to accept asbestos waste in containers that are labeled "DANGER. CONTAINS ASBESTOS FIBERS. AVOID CREATING DUST. CANCER AND LUNG DISEASE HAZARD" (2). All documentation of the disposal must be fully completed and submitted within 30 days of project completion (2).
Because asbestos abatement is often quite expensive, there are also the options of encapsulation and encasement, which involve not removing, but enclosing the hazardous material. However, these are not always options in the case of demolition or renovation since any encapsulant or encasement may be damaged, exposing asbestos fibers to the air. If you believe that your home or business may be contaminated by asbestos, protect yourself and your loved ones from the dangers of asbestos. You can contact one of a number of trained professionals right here in South Carolina who will explain your options.
'South Carolina (SC) Asbestos Removal & Abatement Resources' Sources:
- "Asbestos Fact Sheet." South Carolina Department of Health and Environmental Control. 11 October 2007 <http://www.scdhec.gov/environment/baq/docs/factsheets/Asbestos.pdf#xml=http://www.scdhec.net/cgi-bin/texis.exe/Webinator/search/xml.txt?query=asbestos&pr=www&prox=page&rorder=750&rprox=750&rdfreq=250&rwfreq=500&rlead=1000&sufs=1&order=r&cq=&id=46daa9c07>.
- "Regulation 61-86.1: Standards of Performance for Asbestos Projects." South Carolina Department of Health and Environmental Control. June 2002. 11 October 2007 <http://www.scdhec.gov/environment/baq/docs/regs/pdf/R61-86_1-02.pdf>.