Building Management Hawaii - June/July 2012 - (Page 16)
How to safely recover from mold and flood damage.
By Harlan Sheppard
anaging property in Hawaii can be a constant war with water— whether it’s humidity, rain, flooding or even old plumbing. Sometimes, water wins. And when it does, it’s a huge risk to both the structure and the well-being of residents. To complicate matters, addressing flood damage and mold issues can lead to asbestos exposure—especially in older buildings.
Asbestos, a silicate fibrous mineral, was a common building material previous to the 1980s, and most older structures contain at least a few asbestos-containing materials (ACMs). Asbestos has impressive properties and an array of applications, including fireproofing qualities, heat and electricity insulation and its indestructable yet lightweight fibrous nature. It was also bonded with other materials such as cement or plastics,
used as a loose fibrous material or woven into textiles. The downside is that asbestos is also a known carcinogen (a substance capable of causing cancer, particularly when inhaled). Asbestos products become dangerous when the material is damaged, decayed, crumbled, or otherwise likely to let asbestos fibers escape into the air. So construction, repair or demolition can lead to exposure. In 1971, OSHA opened the eyes of the workplace to the risks, and as the agency gathered more evidence of its dangers to health, less and less exposure was permitted. Asbestos can be so small as to be well within the microscopic realm. It’s odorless, tasteless and totally invisible to our senses at its smallest sizes. But still potentially deadly. Mind you, asbestos usually doesn’t hurt anybody right away. It’s 10 to 30 years down the line when a person feels the effects.
In 1989, the EPA announced an asbestos ban and phase out. But in 1990, the ban was overturned by a U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals.
there is no way to know if they are present by simply examining an area. If you don’t know for a fact that something you’re going to demolish (even drywall) does not contain asbestos, you must treat it as though it is in fact asbestos containing material. In order to treat it normally, you must have it tested by a trained asbestos inspector. If a company performs recovery or restoration work in your building without testing for asbestos, they could be creating a hazard. For example, while I walked a job for A&W Disaster Recovery I arranged for some drywall to be tested. All I knew at face value was that there was mold damage that needed to be remediated. The test results showed that the joint compound (drywall mud) contained asbestos. At that point, I knew I had to change how I approached the job. If the test hadn’t been done, nobody would have known. The mold risk would have been removed, yet a new risk would have been created.
What if my building tests positive?
Does Your Building Have Asbestos?
Leave the handling of hazardous materials to the professionals. They have the proper equipment and knowledge for containment, disposal and careful cleaning.
If you suspect that asbestos is present in your building, get professional testing performed in order to confirm such suspicions. Asbestos fibers are invisible to the unaided eye;
If the test results come back positive (or you decide to presume it’s ACM), this can be a show-stopper. If the asbestos material needs to be removed, then contact an asbestos abatement contractor. Only a trained and licensed contractor maintaining a C-19 classification can remove or contain asbestos. The contractor should provide information about treatment options and encapsulation or enclosure. Property restoration companies will generally work to a high standard, but if you have concerns about their awareness of asbestos,
Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of Building Management Hawaii - June/July 2012
When the Winds Blow
Why Waterproof? Keep your building watertight & upright.
Get Watertight Water is the greatest solvent in the world ... keep your building dry.
What Drains Your Building?
Asbestos Exposed How to safely recover from mold and flood damage.
Water Leaks—from Bad to Worse
The Power of Paint
Life of Paint
It’s Best to Test A paint test can detect lead, and be the trick in finding a paint that will stick.
Movers & Shakers
Resource Guide: Waterproofing & Painting
Building Management Hawaii - June/July 2012