Asbestos FAQs

About Asbestos & Regulations in Colorado

Do I have to remove asbestos just because it is in my home? building? apartment? office?

No. An asbestos containing material may remain in place as long as it is in good condition, and not damaged or impacted by renovations, fire, or flooding or damage.  Any of these can cause the ACM (Asbestos Containing Materials) to become damaged and airborne.    

What is an asbestos containing material? 

An Asbestos Containing Material (ACM) is defined as any material that contains more than 1% asbestos. Because of the unique properties of asbestos, it was widely used as an ingredient to many different building materials. The addition of asbestos to products increased its durability and reduced wear, enhanced its ability to retain heat or cold and improved its fire resistance properties as well as being an additive to some surfacing materials. It was widely added to products used in construction from approximately the 1940’s until 1980’s.  In the 1980’s the EPA banned some asbestos containing materials in manufacturing and imports. However most of those were overturned in 1991.  Most people think asbestos was banned completely from building materials and this is a false assumption.   Since being found in the late 1800’s to be a fire retardant material it still continues to be used in a number of applications in the building industry today.

This is a short list of examples of building materials that were widely known to have asbestos in them at the time of the ban:

  • Drywall joint compound, decorative wall and ceiling textures
  • Vinyl floor tile, sheet flooring materials and associated mastics
  • Spray on architectural ceiling textures
  • Older furnace insulations and supply duct joint tapes
  • Some cementitious roofing shingles and associated felts
  • Pipe insulations
  • Attic insulations although rare have been discovered to contain asbestos.
  • Cementitious exterior siding tiles

From the EPA’s Website: Asbestos Ban and Phase-out Rule (Remanded) 

On July 12, 1989, the EPA issued a final rule banning most asbestos-containing products. In 1991, this regulation was overturned by the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals. However, as a result of the Court's decision, only a few asbestos-containing products remain banned.

How do I find out if a material contains asbestos?

A small sample of the material will need to be collected by a certified asbestos building inspector and submitted to a laboratory for analysis. The results of the analysis will identify the type of asbestos and the percentage of asbestos in the sample if present.

Why is asbestos considered to be so dangerous?

Exposure to asbestos fiber containing dust through inhalation has shown to cause a scaring condition of the lung called asbestosis, lung cancer and other cancers. 

We had a fire/ water leak/ sewer backup in our home. Should I be concerned?
Most restoration and dry out companies are aware of the dangers of asbestos and are trained to have an inspection done for the building materials in a structure that have been impacted by a fire or water damage from a water leak or sewer backup to those building materials that may contain asbestos. Once the survey has been conducted of the area affected, and report from a NVLAP certified lab will show if any asbestos materials were found, what kind or types of asbestos are present and in what percentage they are present for the area affected.  From the report a scope of work can be determined to abate (remove) any asbestos containing materials by a firm certified to do so.  In the State of Colorado, a GAC (General Abatement Certificate) is required for the company doing the asbestos removal as well as the staff trained to do so.  All asbestos workers and supervisors in Colorado carry an identification card showing they have been certified to do the abatement work. Also in Colorado, permits from the State Health Department to remove the asbestos are usually required when a certain square footage threshold is reached.

How soon can you start removing the asbestos containing materials after my catastrophe? (Fire, Flood, Sewer Backup?)
Once we have seen the survey, the area affected, taken photos and measured, we can prepare your proposal for you.  If this is being claimed on your home owners’ insurance policy, the insurance company will also want to review the bid usually.  If you wish to proceed immediately, we ask that you sign our proposal to do the work and then we can ask the State Health Department for a Waiver of the normal 10 day waiting period to get the permit to remove the asbestos.  In the cases of Fire, Flooding, Sewer Back-up’s they can allow us to receive our permit sooner than the usual two week wait. 

We are planning on renovating our office or home, so what is next?

Any structure built prior to October 12, 1982, is required to be inspected for asbestos before any suspect materials are impacted. The inspection is required to be performed by a licensed building inspector for structures built in that time frame. Truthfully any building after that time could potentially have asbestos building materials in it; we have seen it in homes and buildings built after most of the ban was overturned.  We recommend testing if you are going to be doing any type of renovation as some asbestos containing materials may be present after those dates. There are a number of reputable licensed inspectors who can provide this service to you. If you need references, we would be happy to help. The survey cost is minimal to the peace of mind knowing what materials you are exposing your family too by not having it done.  There are instances where inspectors for the State Health Department has shown up at a renovation project, after a contractor had started renovations and they found no permit had been pulled, and the contractor did not do an inspection for asbestos before doing work.  We have been called in to those cases to remediate a “spill” that the contractor had created where asbestos had become airborne and not contained. 

Once the inspection process is complete and we discover we have an asbestos containing material, what is next?
Only those materials discovered to contain asbestos will require remediation before the planned renovation of the structure can begin.  A site visit will be required so that we can measure and photograph the area to be renovated and get additional information about your project from you and the contractor doing the work. We will give you a detailed proposal and scope of work diagram showing what we are bidding to do.   We really try and give an accurate bid for the work to be done, and do not “low ball” a bid to get the project and then “change order” it to raise it.  We are homeowners and business owners too, and treat our customers as we would like to be treated.  We are happy to answer any questions about our proposed work for you for your project.  We feel it is a pleasure and honor to be able to help you with your asbestos abatement needs. Our bids are done free of charge.  If you wish to proceed, then we will have you sign our proposal agreeing to the work to be done, we will then apply for the permit with the State Health Department which normally takes about two weeks for the approved permit to be received so we can start work.  The Asbestos Permit is like a building permit, and has to be onsite for work being performed.

Asbestos Encapsulation

An alternative to asbestos removal is encapsulation. Asbestos containing material encapsulation basically consists of laminating or covering over the surface of the ACM with new materials or painted coatings.