Removing Asbestos Containing Materials from Private Homes after Severe Flooding
Presence of Asbestos in Homes
Homes built before 1980 are the most likely to have asbestos containing materials. Newer homes are less likely to have large quantities of asbestos. Because of its fiber strength and heat resistance, asbestos has been used in a variety of building materials such as siding, ceiling and floor tiles, stucco, sheetrock/joint compound, ceiling texture (popcorn ceiling), caulking, construction mastic, insulation, and roofing materials.
Federal and state asbestos regulations typically do not apply to work done at private homes. However, if a homeowner wants a licensed asbestos contractor to remove materials, make repairs, or renovate or demolish their home, the contractor must comply with all asbestos regulations.
Exposure to Asbestos
Asbestos fibers may be released into the air by disturbing asbestos-containing materials during building repairs, renovations, or demolitions. In general, exposure may occur only when the asbestos-containing material is disturbed or damaged in such a way to release dusty particles and fibers into the air. Asbestos containing materials that have not been disturbed can safely remain in place.
People at Greatest Risk for Health Effects from Asbestos
People exposed to asbestos on a regular basis, such as contractors who do not follow federal and state health-protective regulations for asbestos, are most at risk for developing asbestos related diseases. Those who are exposed to large amounts of asbestos over a period of time have a greater chance of developing harmful health effects, such as lung cancer or other respiratory diseases. Disease symptoms may take many years to develop after being exposed to asbestos.
Minimizing Asbestos Exposure
If homeowners decide to do work on their homes themselves or hire a non-licensed asbestos contractor, the following work practices and procedures should be followed to minimize airborne asbestos fiber releases and personal exposure:
- Keep the material that may contain asbestos wet at all times. A low pressure garden sprayer adjusted to "mist" can be used. Water helps keep asbestos fibers from becoming airborne.
- Avoid tearing, ripping, chipping, cutting, or grinding materials that may contain asbestos, such as those listed above. These actions increase the potential for asbestos fibers to be released.
- Do not throw or drop materials that may contain asbestos to the ground. Instead, lower them carefully to prevent breakage and release of fibers to the air.
- Check your county or municipality's solid waste website to determine how best to segregate and store household materials at curbside, or to find drop off locations to take materials to in your area. If storing materials as curbside, store them in a secure area close to the road (but not in the roadway) until it can be picked up and taken to a landfill. These websites should also have pickup dates.
DHEC issues licenses for asbestos contractors. A list of licensed contractors that can perform asbestos abatement and demolition activities in South Carolina can be found at https://apps.dhec.sc.gov/Environment/AsbestosContractorsAndConsultants.
Additional information about asbestos can be found here or by calling (803) 898-4289.