Benton Clean Air Agency

Dealing with Asbestos

What to do if it IS asbestos. Don’t Panic. There are options.

Leave it alone.

Asbestos is a problem only if fibers are released to the air.

  • Asbestos-containing materials that are in good repair and not being disturbed will not release asbestos fibers.
  • Sometimes, it is possible to work around asbestos without removing it.

For example, rather than removing a sheet vinyl floor with asbestos backing, it may be possible to lay the new sheet vinyl on top of the old, or to install a new ¼ inch plywood underlayment on top of the existing and then the new sheet vinyl. o However, if asbestos-containing material is damaged, subject to being damaged, or must be disturbed as part of a remodeling project, then you should repair, encapsulate or remove it.

Repair & Encapsulate.

Sometimes, asbestos can be repaired or encapsulated rather than removed.

  • A few inches of torn, loose or frayed asbestos tape wrap on heating ducts can be sealed with paint or duct tape.
  • Damaged hot water pipe insulation can be covered with a specially designed fabric available at safety equipment stores.
  • Similarly, some asbestos applications that are in good condition can be encapsulated to stabilize them and reduce the likelihood of asbestos releases.

Encapsulation often is the best option when dealing with insulation on heating systems. o Homeowners should be aware, however, that although encapsulation seems like an attractive option, especially when dealing with furnace ducts or spray-on “popcorn” ceilings, there may be less obvious costs and risks involved. o For example, painting may make a future removal much more difficult. It also can cause heavy popcorn applications or popcorn that has been water-damaged to fall off ceilings in clumps. 

In cases involving extensive asbestos damage or disturbance, removal may be the more appropriate option.

Removal Options.

As an owner-occupied, single-family residence, there are two legal options when having asbestos removed from your home:

  • Hire a certified asbestos abatement contractor. The law prohibits you from hiring anyone other than a certified asbestos abatement contractor to perform asbestos removal work. These experts are trained to remove asbestos effectively and safely. They also perform air monitoring to ensure that the air in your home meets acceptable standards after the project is completed. Asbestos abatement contractors are listed in the yellow pages; make sure you check that they are certified, bonded, and insured.
  • Do the work yourself. Some projects can be done safely—but only if prescribed work procedures are strictly followed. All asbestos-containing material must be removed and disposed of in accordance with Benton Clean Air Agency regulations.

Some projects, such as the removal of certain types of asbestos insulation on hot water boilers and associated pipe systems, and vermiculite insulation, are very hazardous and should be performed only by an abatement contractor.

  1. Asbestos Forms, Publications & Resources
  2. BCAA Regulation 1