MAJOR asbestos faux pas - what to do now?


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Old 01-16-10, 08:03 PM
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MAJOR asbestos faux pas - what to do now?

All,

Not sure which forum to post this in: flooring, ceilings, basements; I figured I'd start here since it's the place where I most often read about asbestos. Please bear with the length of the attached, but I'm beside myself right now looking for answers.

I've spent the last two days reading up on everything there is to know about asbestos. I must admit, there are a lot of opinions on the topic and it's difficult to find what's real and what's not.

Long story short, I found out I made a big mistake. Very little of what I've read talks about the course of action once you make such a mistake, which is why I've come to the forum for advice.

I recently completed demolition of an approximately 800 sq ft (big!) basement in a 1960 home. Basement appeared to have been "finished" in the 60s as well. I demolished walls (paneling and studs), ceiling (stapled acoustic tile), and floor (tile).

I hired a demolition contractor I had recently used for a bathroom demo. I had one concern when I started the demolition - the floor. For some reason (and I'm not sure how I originally came to the conclusion), I was concerned about asbestos in the floor tile. The demo contractor was not phased when I mentioned this to him and even suggested some techniques for controlling the demolition - including wetting down the tiles. This seemed consistent with what I recalled reading about removing asbestos-containing floor tile and I didn't even think twice that he might not be the right guy for the job.

The demolition contractor worked exactly as you'd expect: 3-4 guys, two days, and a very aggressive approach to the demolition. I went down in to the basement a couple of times during the demo and saw clouds of dust and only a couple of open windows to relieve it. Mid-way through the floor demo, I went down to find that they had stopped wetting the floor before scraping it with big spud bars - the contractor told me that dust was being generated either way. He had been trying to control the dust with a hand-held garden sprayer.

Thankfully I had the common sense to close all of the forced air vents in the house and had the single passway from the basement to the living area isolated with plastic sheeting. Dusting in the living space of the house appears to be minimal (if any at all).

Since the demo completed, I did a lot of reading on asbestos-containing materials. Not only was the floor not properly handled, but I've recently found out that acoustic ceiling tiles should be considered probable asbestos-containing materials as well!

I've spent the last three days deep cleaning the living space of the house: moved furniture, Swiffered walls, vacuumed carpets, dusted, Swiffered floors.

I've also started to tackle the basement now that the dust has settled. I had to leave quite a few storage items in the basement during the demo and all are coated with a thick layer of dust. I've started wet-wiping everything, including every inch of forced-air ductwork I can reach. I've changed the filter in my shop vac to a HEPA filter, replaced the furnace filter with the best Filtrete filter I can find, purchased a commercial mop and bucket to thoroughly soak the floor, and acquired some Tyvek suits and a particulate resiprator. In two days, I've got about 100 sq ft cleaned, and that's what I can reach. In reality, the block walls, sill plates, and top ductwork are still probably holding a lot of dust.

In hindsight, my approach was a major bonehead move. I'm concerned that I've put my long-term health, and the health of my family, at risk.

Most of the information I've found on the internet provides guidance on how to properly approach the remediation of asbestos-containing floor and ceiling tiles before starting demolition work; none suggests what you should do if you realized after the fact that you did all the wrong things.

Can anyone provide any advice?

I'd start looking for environmental specialists and asbestos specialists in the yellow pages, but I realize that there is a lot of misinformation and a lot of cons interested in taking advantage of the hysteria around asbestos. Ideally, I'd like to find a way to quantify the impact to my home and ensure the appropriate remediation takes place. It seems that there is a lot of qualitative information, but that it is difficult to quantify what type of impact the demoliton might have had. I can sample the floor tile but all of the ceiling tile has been disposed of already. Is air monitoring and surface monitoring a possibility and how would I go about finding an impartial company to do so for me (seems there would be a lot of incentive for a remediation company to find bad test results)? This seems to me the most quanititative place to start.

Thanks in advance for any thoughts and for reading the long-winded message.
 
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Old 01-16-10, 08:25 PM
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i didn't read all of the post but the first thing you need to do is getting the suspect material tested to see it is asbestos. If it isn't, you just clean.

if it is, yes, you have messed up.

If the floor tile is, I would check your states laws concerning this and possibly look into a suit against the contractor for not utilizing proper remediation methods.

what state are you in and are you in a major city that might have it's own ordinances?
 
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Old 01-17-10, 06:09 AM
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Originally Posted by nap View Post
i didn't read all of the post but the first thing you need to do is getting the suspect material tested to see it is asbestos. If it isn't, you just clean.

if it is, yes, you have messed up.

If the floor tile is, I would check your states laws concerning this and possibly look into a suit against the contractor for not utilizing proper remediation methods.

what state are you in and are you in a major city that might have it's own ordinances?
Nap,

I appreciate your response.

Unfortunately, I'd only be able to test the floor tile - that's all that remains are a couple of squares of it. The ceiling tile has been disposed of.

Although liability may become an issue down the road, my immediate concern is health and safety. Frankly, I consider myself primarily responsible - I should have known better. Now what I need is to figure out how to resolve the situation or put my mind at ease.

Since I won't be able to test all of the suspect material, I felt testing the residual dust or air is probably the next best course of action.

Thanks.
 
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Old 01-17-10, 12:09 PM
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Although liability may become an issue down the road, my immediate concern is health and safet
y.

then, based on probabilities, I would suggest moving out of the home until such time it can be verified that asbestos is present or not and then not until such time any required cleaning is performed with a successful air quality test after that.
 
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Old 01-17-10, 12:51 PM
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Here's my link for "everything I ever wanted to know about asbestos." Asbestos Visual Identification in Buildings: How to find recognize, and identify asbestos or asbestos-containing materials in buildings by visual inspection methods - text about and photos of asbestos containing building products

I certainly haven't followed all of the included links, but you are welcome to try.

Bud
 
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Old 01-17-10, 02:05 PM
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We just found discovered in the course of looking for something else, that 5 years ago, when we removed sheet flooring from our living room, that there is a strong likelihood that the concrete floor is covered with this black mastic. The covering was a white glossy material of some sort that noone at this point can tell us what that might have been, or the likelihood of what it was. It definitely didn't seem to be 'friable' by the definitions I have seen. We pulled it up in large quantites and had to scrape other areas up, but neither my husband or I think it was 'dusty'. It was chunky and made a cracking sound as we dropped it on other tiles. Neither of us can remember what the bottom looked like.

So now of course we are frantic with trying to figure out what we have been exposed to. In addition, our basement has suspect tiles that are 12x12. We had a flood and they were wet, and the plumbing contractor had removed some of those. The ceiling tiles from the drop floor also had to be removed in various states - wet-dry. In one of the corners some of the floor tiles have come up and are crumbly, which I am now worried may be this 'friable' stuff I have heard of. Since this has happened over the weekend, we have identified a couple of different inspectors and 'hygienists' that we are going to talk to and get them to come in and take samples and do air quality studies after getting some quotes. I am absolutely bereft that we may have been exposing ourselves (children included) to this over 7 years that we have been in the house. Neither of us knew any better and noone had mentioned to us of the possibility that there were materials that may contain asbestos. My point in all of this is that, we felt the only way to be "better" is to find out what we are up against and then go from there. In the meantime, one of my questions is, whether anyone knows of other types of tiles that would crumble under long term water/time. Did all 12x12s have asbestos in them in the 60s/70s or just some of them? The black mastic is under the 4 tiles that were pulled up. If we don't remove it, is it ok, just to paint over it? Does carpeting keep it from moving? Of all of the contractors we have had in and out of the house noone has ever said anything. Do regular contracts know to look for this stuff or do you have to be specially trained? We seem to be in some of the same boat, and we won't rest until we get a professional in asap.
 
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Old 01-22-10, 09:46 AM
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Update -

Had both the floor tile and ceiling tile tested. Only the floor tile (and its mastic) came back as asbestos-containing materials, about 8% and 2%, respectively.

I guess if either of them had to be asbestos, this would be the one to have it be.

Recommendation from experts is now a thorough clean-up (wet) and an air quality test.
 
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Old 01-23-10, 10:28 AM
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Ugh.....just wet it down and wear a simple dust mask. You will not get sick from touching it or breathing it in. It takes roughly 30 years of heavy exposure to the fibers to get sick.
 
 

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