Thursday, February 03, 2011

Condo Covered In Asbestos Dust in Virginia Beach, VA

Asbestos Pipe Insulation in a Crawl Space
 This news report and video from WAVY-TV10 In Virginia Beach, VA illustrates the importance of knowing what materials contain asbestos before performing any work in an area where the materials are suspected of containing asbestos.  A Virginia Beach family moves out of their condo after building maintenance activities may have caused the release of asbestos.  After the owners of the condo discovered that building maintenance activites had left a fine dust behind, they had the dust tested and the laboratory tests indicated the dust was asbestos dust.  It would be interesting to determine the procedures used since sampling dust is still a controversial issue in the asbestos industry.  The collection of the dust should follow the American Society of Testing Material (ASTM) Standard D5755-09 or D5756-02(2008).  However, what do you compare the results to?  The neither ASTM standard set a level for safety.  There is currently no standard under the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) or the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) for a safe level of asbestos dust.  Some laboratories will give you guidelines, again these are not standards or regulations.  In addition, there are few published studies on what would be a safe level.  Is there a safe level or is the presence of any asbestos dust mean that the area is contaminated and hence it is a danger.  Most asbestos inspectors probably would say that any asbestos dust makes the area unsafe and hence the area is contaminated.  Meaning some type of removal/cleanup is necessary.  Which brings up the next question how clean is clean and can you clean porous items?  According to New York State Department of Labor (NYS DOL) Industrial Code Rule 56 (ICR56), the asbestos regulation governing NYS, porous items would need to be cleaned and disposed of as asbestos containing materials.  Asbestos dust sampling is one of the most difficult issues to deal with in the asbestos industry, I don't envy the Virginia Beach condo association trying to deal with this issue.

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J. Paciulli said...

Angelo, I AGREE. While the ASTM standard is useful, it puts the honus on the investigator to determine the "action level" for surfacial contamination. And as we all know, this largely depends on the responsible party's willingness to act in best interest of building occupants, and has no enforcement implications, leaving consultants in a bit of a lurch. I do tend to agree however, that any presence of Asbestos on surfaces is atypical of healthy building conditions. We ran into this at WTC when evaluating buildings and the NYCDEP used percentage by weight using PLM...a grossly inadequate evaluative method.

Angelo Garcia III said...

That's the reason why many people were not happy with what NYCDEP did at the WTC and the decisions on whether to clean or not clean.

jeff said...

keep up the good work , Asbestos is a nasty material that really causes havoc on people. Sadly this disease effects a lot of our older veterans and craftsman.