By: Rebecca Reilly

Asbestos AbatementDue to health concerns and the large cost of abatement, asbestos containing materials (ACM) are a major concern to building owners. These materials can be found in roofing materials, tiles and insulations that were fabricated and sold between 1930 and 1985. Asbestos containing materials are typically classified into two categories: friable and non-friable. Since non-friable ACM does not easily crumble and distribute airborne particles, they are considered less harmful to people. Building materials such as roofing and window sealant are considered non-friable. Various types of insulation including fireproofing, soundproofing and pipe covering are examples of friable ACM.

Asbestos testing is required in New York City whenever work is to be performed on an existing building. If asbestos containing materials are being disturbed during a construction project, the contractor removing the materials must be registered with the NYC Department of Environmental Protection (DEP), and the asbestos containing debris must be disposed of in specifically designated DEP facilities. Additionally, if the amount of ACM being disturbed is more than 10 SF or 25 LF, air monitoring is required for asbestos abatement. An air monitoring company will use a sampling pump to test the air and ensure the levels of asbestos do not exceed the maximum allowance outlined by the DEP. Asbestos abatement and air monitoring is often an unforeseen cost, and building owners should include additional funds in project budgets in the event that ACM is encountered.

On a typical exterior restoration project with ACM, the contractor is typically required to remove all asbestos before pulling the permit and beginning work. In some cases, however, it is not practical to remove all of the asbestos before replacing the materials. For example, if asbestos containing sealant exists at all of a building’s windows, it’s not practical to remove all of the sealant and leave the windows exposed to water infiltration for an extended duration. In this type of situation, the contractor can file for an asbestos abatement variance.

The variance allows the contractor to remove sections of ACM as work progresses. Additionally, the contractor can perform other work so long as they are 20 feet away from the location of abatement.

Building owners should notify all residents before asbestos abatement commences. Abatement workers in their protective HAZMAT suits can be startling to residents.A Occupants must also be advised to keep windows shut and air conditioners off for the duration of the abatement in the vicinity of their residence to ensure that no ACM enters the building.

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