If you manage a residential property or oversee a commercial portfolio, it’s essential to know how to handle asbestos encounters. Besides project delays, a poorly managed asbestos-related incident can create significant health and safety risks for a building and its occupants, as well as financial or legal issues down the line. Whether you manage one site or multiple properties, it’s important to safeguard your assets and manage asbestos encounters responsibly.
But how do you know whether a property has an asbestos problem – and what should you do if you encounter it? Read on to learn four property management tips to remember when encountering asbestos.
1. Know the Basics of Asbestos
Asbestos is a group of naturally occurring minerals that were used extensively in products manufactured throughout the 1900s because of its durable, fireproofing capabilities. However, asbestos is a toxic substance that’s known to cause multiple health problems. Because asbestos was used widely in the construction industry, any residential or commercial building built, renovated, or maintained before the year 1990 may have asbestos containing materials (ACM).
There are many possible locations where asbestos could be found within a commercial property. Some common areas are within the building’s heating, water, and electrical systems. Other areas, like the roof, ceiling, floors, or walls, could also contain asbestos. In residential properties, asbestos can be found anywhere from the basement, attic, fireplace, insulation, and more.
2. Have A Plan
If you suspect a site you manage has asbestos containing materials, it’s best to have an asbestos management plan in place so you can mitigate any potential roadblocks ahead of time. As a property manager, it’s your responsibility to identify the presence of asbestos and manage those sites in accordance with the law.
With the help from our environmental consultants, JSE can help you and your team document all asbestos-related actions while collaborating efficiently and with low risk. If you need an asbestos management plan, but you’re not sure where to start, JSE’s field department has over 25 years of experience designing management plans and working with local, state, and federal regulations.
3. Get an Asbestos Survey
Asbestos is not always visible to the naked eye, so to know whether a property has asbestos containing materials, property managers should ensure an asbestos survey is conducted. An asbestos survey is a professional search for asbestos containing materials that identifies the type of material, location, and the extent of asbestos contamination. Because even small amounts of asbestos can be hazardous, a certified asbestos inspector should perform the survey.
Choosing the right environmental consultant or inspector can be tricky, especially when there are so many factors to consider. There are several qualifications to consider when choosing an environmental inspector like years of experience, certifications, education, and communication. Once potential ACMs are identified and sampled, they are then sent for an asbestos analysis and further laboratory testing if deemed necessary.
For property managers who don’t require a full on-site survey, JSE makes it easy to collect asbestos samples and drop off either in-person, or sent through the mail for processing at our lab. As long as collectors follow the proper safety measures, gathering a sample is low risk. Safety tips like wearing the correct personal protective equipment (PPE) and following the sample containment and cleanup guidelines should be reiterated to any worker performing asbestos-related tasks. Once the sample is received, JSE Labs provides two different same day options. However, if you are in no hurry, we have 1, 2, and 3 day turnaround options to fit your needs- and your budget.
4. Perform Your Due Diligence
After a site has been inspected, every property manager needs to perform their due diligence. If a property has asbestos present, an environmental consultant will advise whether you need to carry out abatement oversight for either the repair or removal of asbestos. Asbestos remediation can include encapsulation or encasement of ACMs with a sealant or enclosure of ACMs behind an air-tight barrier. In other instances, asbestos removal might be necessary before other projects can move forward.
In the United States, only an EPA-licensed asbestos abatement professional should handle asbestos for your business needs, so it’s important that property managers keep accurate records in line with your asbestos management plan—That way you can have the legal documentation you need to keep your project compliant with the law. Good record-keeping and proper documentation can also help you verify vendor or contractor credentialing. This helps to make sure work is done correctly the first time and without impacting your budget.
JSE Labs Provides Asbestos Testing and Consulting You Can Trust
JSE Labs’ field department serves homeowners, contractors, large commercial operations, schools, and government facilities. Our staff of accredited and certified inspectors can tailor any project to fit your needs, whether you’re located in the Pacific Northwest, or across the United States.
We are NVLAP accredited (Lab Code: 200872-0) for bulk asbestos analysis and maintain several formal licenses, certifications, and accreditations regarding the testing of asbestos, lead, and mold for both residential and commercial properties. If you’re a property manager who’s encountered asbestos, Contact us to get your site tested and inspected today!
Jennifer is the Laboratory Manager of JSE Labs, and holds a BS in Environmental Studies & Science from Portland State University. She is an avid learner and enjoys exploring new topics related to natural processes and the environment. She has experience analyzing hazardous materials, including asbestos and lead, and is committed to promoting safe and sustainable practices in the workplace and beyond. When not in the laboratory, Jennifer can be found exploring the Pacific Northwest with her Catahoula Leopard Dog, Oliver, or volunteering locally.