Identifying Asbestos Materials In Demolition Projects

Asbestos warning sign

The use of asbestos in construction in the US began during the 1940s as a way to increase a building’s fire resistance and insulation. While asbestos is composed of six naturally occurring minerals, exposure to it can also be extremely hazardous to your health. It’s been known to damage the lungs and cause various forms of cancers, which is why both the EPA and OSHA closely regulate any demolition project containing what they refer to as ACMs, or Asbestos Containing Materials.ACMs can be found in insulation, floor tiles, shingles, cement or roofing products and other materials in older buildings. Not every material containing asbestos is considered regulated and hazardous, however.
  • Friable ACMs
Friable ACMs are always regulated because they pose the greatest risk of getting into the lungs and body of those working around them. A Friable ACM is fragile and able to be crumbled in your hand. This could include spray-applied fireproofing and insulation and any other type of material that’s broken down over time and become friable.
  • Category 1
Think about materials like floor tiles. In most cases, these wouldn’t be able to be crumbled in your hand, which means that despite the existence of asbestos, these are classified as Category 1 Non-Friable ACMs and are not regulated. Since they’re not regulated, they don’t need to be removed prior to demolition unless they’ll be subjected sanding, grinding, cutting, burning or similarly broken down to the point they become dangerous. There are also cases when Category 1 ACMs have become friable over time. It’s important to carefully assess the condition of these materials before any demolition work begins in order to properly remove and dispose of ACMs properly.
  • Category 2
Asbestos cement and many roofing products are typically classified as Category 2 Non-Friable ACMs. The decision of whether to remove these prior to the start of demolition and how to properly dispose of these materials is best made on a case-by-case basis. If Category 2 ACMs are likely to be crushed or reduced in some way, they’ll likely require proper removal before the start of the project as these conditions could make the environment hazardous to workers.Proper removal of regulated ACMs requires packaging in leak-tight containers or wraps and moving to an approved disposal site as identified by state and local agencies. At all times during removal, a standard of zero visible air emissions is kept to ensure the safety of anyone present in the area.At Demolition Technologies, we recognize the importance of safety in each of our demolition, asset retirement and site clearance projects. We participate in continuing education to stay well-versed in the latest procedures and practices in order to complete projects without harm to the environment or our employees.For your next demolition project in Oklahoma, Arkansas, Missouri, Kansas, Texas and throughout the Midwest, contact Demolition Technologies of Tulsa.For more information on construction and demolition waste, see the EPA’s document on RCRA.