Asbestos is a major human health hazard when inhaled. As a matter of fact, asbestos is known to be carcinogenic. The main challenge with asbestos-removal projects is that the material can become airborne when disturbed, and its presence in the air can go almost unnoticed in many cases. For that reason, professional handling is required to ensure cleaner, healthier buildings. Asbestos contractors use a range of equipment to ensure proper containment, removal and cleanup of asbestos material from the job site or regulated work area. Here are a number of equipment pieces widely used in asbestos-removal project sites and what they are used to do.
The use of plastic products is commonplace in many industrial and manufacturing applications, including in asbestos-removal undertakings. Plastic sheeting is usually used to "plasticise" or cover walls, ceilings and floors as needed to isolate them from work areas and prevent contamination of the surfaces by asbestos being abated. The plastic sheeting essentially works as an enclosure system for containing any airborne asbestos.
HEPA filter–equipped vacuums
These negative air-pressure vacuums are equipped with HEPA filters to keep airborne fibres of asbestos from escaping from the containment. This helps to minimise the amount of asbestos dust that may find its way into the work area. Workers involved in the abatement job must wear personal protective equipment, such as protective suits, respiratory masks, gloves, work boots and so forth any time they are within the job site. This will ensure the workers are not directly exposed to the asbestos fibres that escape into the air.
These compartments are supposed to be used by workers entering and leaving the job site, as the personal protective equipment that they put on can also get contaminated. The staff should use the decontamination unit before accessing the job site so they do not carry any foreign contaminants onsite. They should also not leave the asbestos removal site without cleaning up in the decontamination unit because they will contaminate the areas outside the job site if they don't.
As work is ongoing, it is important to constantly check the air for possible contamination by asbestos. As was mentioned earlier, the presence of asbestos in the air can easily go undetected, as asbestos is odourless and colourless. Asbestos-air sample pumps are used to collect samples from the air in the course of the asbestos-removal process.
To minimise chances of friable asbestos becoming airborne, an airless sprayer is used to keep the asbestos material wet throughout the removal process.