What is a professional asbestos inspector?
A professional asbestos inspector is certified by the state to inspect properties and structures for possible asbestos contamination. Many properties are required to have inspections by almost all states before beginning renovation or demolition work. This includes commercial and industrial parties, but generally not residential homes and small apartment buildings. Still, all structures will benefit from the opinion and evaluation from a professional asbestos inspector.
How does one become an asbestos inspector?
The qualifications to become an asbestos inspector vary by state but since state asbestos laws are based on federal mandates, there is little actual variation to the knowledge necessary to be licensed. Almost all states provide a training course accredited by the state asbestos abatement authority. These courses may be standard for all prospective professionals or tailored depending on the certification. Generalized course will cover asbestos safety, the effect of asbestos on the body and asbestos abatement procedure, more specialized courses will focus on identifying asbestos materials and conducting testing.
Testing for asbestos in the home
Although some asbestos materials can be verified by sight, laboratory testing is usually required by professional asbestos inspectors to determine the nature and danger of an asbestos contamination. Asbestos by nature is tiny, friable and impossible to detect with conventional means. Laboratory testing eliminates most of the guesswork, by either testing air samples or analyzing samples of building materials taken from the structure. Since friable asbestos is so easily broken, it is not difficult to collect these samples.
What the professional asbestos inspector will look for
Asbestos inspectors know to look for certain materials that are prone to asbestos contamination. This includes most forms of insulation. Pipe insulation, which usually consists of asbestos fibers wrapped around a metal pipe, has been prime candidates for breaking apart and releasing asbestos fibers into basements. Since basements are generally not well ventilated, there will be a high concentration of fibers there. Ventilation is an important factor in inspections, as this will help determine the potential severity of contamination in any area with emissions.
Attics too, have the same issues as basements. You are not likely to find asbestos pipes here, but the asbestos inspector will be looking for friable asbestos insulation. Popped vermiculite, an ordinarily harmless material, was contaminated with massive amounts of asbestos during its mining in this country. This inevitably sickened miners, factory workers and now poses a risk to those that inhabit properties that use this insulation. Poor ventilation means that if this wool-like asbestos material breaks down, it will become airborne easily, but not leave the structure.
Where to find a professional asbestos inspector
Most states will have listings of professional asbestos inspectors that are certified to inspect and identify asbestos containing materials. The Asbestos Control Program in your state will have this information on their website. Alternatively, you may call them directly for more information.
Why do I need a professional asbestos inspector?
Some states mandate that asbestos materials in structures be accounted for before it can be removed or any construction work will take place. States take this a step further by requiring certain notification forms to be completed by the inspector that certify the nature and amount of asbestos in the structure, as well as recommendations for its removal.
Workplaces will need asbestos inspectors to certify workspaces as safe for workers. This is keeping with mandates set by the Occupation Health and Safety Administration. Exposed asbestos in the workplace is a legal liability as well as a safety issue, so employers are best served by ensuring that workplaces are safe for workers.