The Presence of Asbestos in Commercial Buildings

By Stan G. in Construction

Commercial buildings are like a second home to people working there 8 hours a day. Even those who do not work in shopping malls or restaurants spend at least one day a week in such places. Therefore, it is very important to know that some of these commercial buildings, especially those constructed before the 1980s, have been found to contain asbestos.

Asbestos is naturally occurring mineral which has been widely used in the construction industry for its great mechanical and heat resistance. Unfortunately, it is toxic for the human body and can cause serious medical conditions, including cancer. Whether it stems from insulation or flooring materials, asbestos exposure can be fatal. If these materials deteriorate, asbestos fibers can become airborne, which means they can easily be inhaled.

Possible locations of asbestos on commercial properties

Although it can be found almost anywhere in a commercial building, asbestos has been especially used in places which might get wet or hot, thanks to its durability and fire-resistance. Some of the most common asbestos-containing materials in commercial buildings are:

  • flooring
  • walls
  • insulation
  • hot water tanks
  • roofs
  • ceilings
  • water pipes
  • lift ropes

Renovation and demolition requirements

The owners of commercial buildings which have been found to contain asbestos have to comply with specific regulations when it comes to renovation and demolition. These regulations strictly demand that the owner of the property notifies the state agency before operating any modifications on the structure of the building. Moreover, air cleaning procedures are required, as the operations performed must not release harmful particles into the air. Waste disposal requirements are also important when asbestos-containing materials are removed.

In addition to these regulations, the law states that people working with asbestos-containing products in commercial buildings must have completed an asbestos managing training program.

Rights and responsibilities for commercial buildings owners

If you own any kind of commercial property, you should know that you are responsible with managing any trace of asbestos present in your building. When asbestos-containing materials are found on your property, it is extremely important that you act in the best interest of your employees.

Some property owners choose to encapsulate the dangerous materials, which is not a bad choice at all in some situations. However, asbestos-containing products that are not sealed become extremely harmful once they are disturbed or damaged.

Action plan

Although undisturbed asbestos-containing materials are pretty much harmless, you should know exactly what to do when taking action is required in order to protect yourself and your employees:

  • Carefully read the contract and check who is responsible with asbestos managing.
  • Hire a certified company to help you find out where asbestos is located in your building.
  • Make sure that the asbestos-containing products are not dangerous.
  • Inform your workers about the presence of asbestos and the exposure risk.
  • Keep the troublesome materials in good condition or have them encapsulated or removed by professionals.

Keeping the people working on your property safe is of high importance and this should be one of your main priorities. Do not take any risks, test any suspicious materials, and inform your employees about the possible dangers, as they have the right to know how their health might be affected.

Why Should I Test Products in My Home for Asbestos?

It is often impossible to tell whether asbestos is embedded in a material, as the fibers are too small to be observed with the naked eye. Exposure to asbestos is responsible for serious respiratory conditions, so thorough testing is required to ensure your home is asbestos-free.