Asbestos Questions

Asbestos causes cancer. Asbestos was used in building products and is still used to this day. Although much less. Only Thermal System Insulation (TSI) and automotive brake shoes have been officially banned for manufacture or import. Asbestos is a naturally occurring mineral fiber found in certain types of rock formations in many locations throughout the world. Asbestos can take the form of long, thin, separable fibers. Most asbestos used in the U.S. was imported from mines in Canada, China, and Africa. A smaller amount of asbestos was mined from locations in the U.S.

When milled for various applications asbestos is a very small fiber, about 5 microns, they cannot be seen by the naked eye. The small fiber looking objects you may see when you tear a piece of linoleum paper backing is not asbestos fibers, they are supporting binders, those supporting binders you see are the size of a 10-foot diameter redwood tree, the asbestos fibers inside the supporting binder would be the size of a needle. Clearly not visible. Asbestos can only be positively identified with a microscope, specific preparation techniques, and training in identifying asbestos fibers from other fibers that look similar.

There are two major groups of asbestos:

Serpentine Asbestos

  • Chrysotile

Amphibole Asbestos

  • Tremolite
  • Amosite
  • Crocidolite
  • Actinolite
  • Anthophyllite

The major difference between serpentine and amphiboles is related to their chemical composition, acid-resistant properties, and their effects on human health.

Chrysotile asbestos does not persist in the lungs after inhalation; it is quickly eliminated by the body. Prolonged exposure to high concentrations of chrysotile fibers is required for the clinical manifestation of pulmonary damage to appear. In the past, such high exposures were frequent; it is no longer the case today. Today, chrysotile is the only asbestos fiber commercialized, and still imported into the US. A trip to your local hardware store will demonstrate the continued use of asbestos, go to the area with roof patching material and read the ingredients.

Amphibole asbestos, on the other hand, because of their toxicity and their high bio persistence, is mainly responsible for mesothelioma and pulmonary diseases even caused after a short or moderate exposure.

Asbestos was used extensively in the past in building materials for its thermal insulating properties, and fire resistance. It was also used in industrial products, and automotive parts and components because of its strengthening properties.

Asbestos is well recognized as a health hazard and is highly regulated by OSHA, EPA, and many state and local agencies. These agency’s regulations were created to reduce asbestos exposure.

It’s hard to believe with all the evidence that asbestos causes cancer, that the US to this day, still imports products with asbestos. Officially, the only products banned from manufacture in the US or imported is Thermal System Insulation (TSI), and automotive brake shoes. If you don’t believe it, next time you go to your favorite hardware store, go look at Henry’s roofing products. The label clearly states it contains asbestos. Not common is floor tile that is still imported with asbestos. It is a common belief that asbestos was banned in 1980, untrue.

People have used asbestos for a long time. One of its earliest known usages was in Egypt. The queen would amuse guests by tossing an asbestos woven tablecloth into the fireplace. The tablecloth would not burn but all the food and drink stains would disappear leaving the tablecloth like new.

Today most products made do not contain asbestos. Those few products which still contain asbestos that could be inhaled are required to be labeled as such. However, until the 1980s, many types of building products and insulation materials were used in buildings containing asbestos. Common building products that might have contained asbestos in the past include:

Floor TilePopcorn TextureRoof Shingles
LinoleumDrywallWindow Caulking
Black MasticTexture on DrywallDoor Caulking
Yellow AdhesiveJoint CompoundFireproofing
BoilersSteam PipesPipe Elbows
Underground PipesMirror MasticWindow Glazing Putty
HVAC Duct TapeHeater Flue PipeFurnace Duct Tape
Stage Lighting CordTextured PaintsTSI
Fire DoorsTransite PanelsSoundproofing
Transite RoofingTransite ShinglesTransite Siding

There are no health threats when asbestos containing building materials remain undisturbed and do not become airborne. Asbestos containing floor tile is a good example of a building material that is not a health hazard when in good condition. Normal wear will not release fibers, in fact you would have to burn, grind, or use extreme mechanical methods to release enough fibers to be a health concern. On the other hand, popcorn ceiling texture can easily become airborne. If you simply rub your hand over the surface, you will cause a release of fibers.

All asbestos-related diseases have a long latency period, that is, it takes 20 to 40 years for the first symptoms to appear. Given the poor work conditions of the past, the widespread use of amphiboles up until the 70’s, and this long latency period, it is not surprising that new cases of asbestos-related disease continue to be observed. But this has nothing to do with today’s products containing only chrysotile and work conditions.

Uncontrolled work conditions, work with friable insulation materials and the extensive use of amphibole asbestos fibers in the past have resulted in asbestos-related disease. But times have changed: the types of fibers and products used are different, and dust control technology has evolved. Today, amphiboles are no longer used, the use of low-density friable insulation materials has been banned, and exposure limits for chrysotile are hundreds of times lower than past worker exposures.

Even if these friable products containing chrysotile are present in many commercial buildings, mostly in Europe and North America, removal of asbestos insulation should be considered a measure of last resort and undertaken only when the material is beyond repair or at the time of major renovation work or building demolition. Hasty elimination of asbestos insulation considerably increases the probability that controls will not be adequately enforced, thus presenting a source of risk not only for the workers, but for building occupants as well.

An estimated 1.3 million employees in construction and general industry face significant asbestos exposure on the job. Heaviest exposures occur in the construction industry, particularly during the removal of asbestos during renovation or demolition. Employees are also likely to be exposed during the manufacture of asbestos products (such as textiles, friction products, insulation, and other building materials) and during automotive brake and clutch repair work.

Asbestos is well recognized as a health hazard and is highly regulated. OSHA and EPA asbestos rules are intertwined.

Asbestos workers have increased chances of getting two principal types of cancer: cancer of the lung tissue itself and mesothelioma, a cancer of the thin membrane that surrounds the lung and other internal organs. These diseases do not develop immediately following exposure to asbestos but appear only after a few years. The following documents describe the health hazards of asbestos and how to recognize it.

From studies of people who were exposed to asbestos in factories and shipyards, we know that breathing high levels of asbestos fibers can lead to an increased risk of:

  • Lung cancer, many forms of lung cancer.
  • Mesothelioma, is a cancer of the lining of the chest and the abdominal cavity.
  • Asbestoses, in which the lungs become scarred with fibrous tissue.

The risk of lung cancer and mesothelioma increases with the number of fibers inhaled. The risk of lung cancer from inhaling asbestos fibers is also greater if you smoke. People who get asbestoses have usually been exposed to high levels of asbestos for a long time. The symptoms of these diseases do not usually appear until about 20 to 30 years after the first exposure to asbestos.
Most people exposed to small amounts of asbestos, as we all are in our daily lives, do not develop these health problems. However, if disturbed, asbestos material may release asbestos fibers, which can be inhaled into the lungs. The fibers can remain there for a long time, increasing the risk of disease. Asbestos material that would crumble easily if handled, or that has been sawed, scraped, or sanded into a powder, is more likely to create a health hazard.

Most health information on asbestos exposure has been derived from studies of workers who have been exposed to asbestos during their occupation. Asbestos fiber concentrations for these workers were many times higher than those encountered by the public.

Because asbestos fibers are naturally occurring and extremely aerodynamic, virtually everyone is exposed to asbestos. To be a significant health concern, asbestos fibers must be inhaled at high concentrations over an extended period. Asbestos fibers then accumulate in the lungs. As exposure increases, the risk of disease also increases. Therefore, measures to minimize exposure and consequently minimize accumulation of fibers will reduce the risk of adverse health effects. Asbestos is only dangerous if it becomes airborne.

If asbestos containing materials are not damaged, the asbestos fibers do not become airborne and do not pose a health threat to the building occupants. During an asbestos building survey, inspectors assess the condition of asbestos containing materials. These conditions do deteriorate over time. If you find that an asbestos containing item has been damaged, please contact our office for a hazard assessment.

As asbestos fibers accumulate in the lungs; several types of diseases may occur. Asbestosis is a scarring of the lung tissue. This scarring impairs the elasticity of the lung and hampers its ability to exchange gases. This leads to inadequate oxygen intake to the blood. Asbestosis restricts breathing leading to decreased lung volume and increased resistance in the airways. It is a slowly progressive disease with a latency period of 15 to 30 years.

The next type of disease attributed to asbestos exposure is Mesothelioma. It is a cancer of the pleural lining. It is exclusively related to asbestos exposure. By the time it is diagnosed, it is almost always fatal. Like other asbestos related diseases, mesothelioma has a longer latency period of 30 to 40 years.
Lung Cancer is a malignant tumor of the bronchi covering. The tumor grows through surrounding tissue, invading and often obstructing air passages. The time between exposure to asbestos and the occurrence of lung cancer is 20 to 30 years. It should be noted that there is a synergistic effect between smoking and asbestos exposure, which creates an extreme susceptibility to lung cancer.

Asbestos is known to be hazardous based on studies of high levels of exposure to asbestos workers and laboratory animals. However, the risks associated with low level, non-occupational exposure are not well established. Therefore, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) concludes that there is no safe level of exposure to asbestos fibers. On the other hand, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) has set a Permissible Exposure Limit (PEL) at 0.1 fibers per cubic centimeter (f/cc) for an 8-hour time weighted average. Similarly, the Minnesota Department of Health (MDH) has set the Clean Indoor Air Standard at 0.01 f/cc.

Controlling the exposure to asbestos can be done through engineering controls, administrative actions, and personal protective equipment. Engineering controls include such things as isolating the source and using ventilation systems. Administrative actions include limiting the workers exposure time and providing showers. Personal protective equipment includes wearing the proper respiratory protection and clothing. The following resources contain information to help control asbestos exposures.

In general, the answer is yes. The reason is that asbestos diseases normally have a 30-year period before showing up. For a 50-year-old, they may be 80 before they are sick. An infant or child may be in their 30’s. So, eliminating or reducing the risk of exposure when young is important.

When we have completed your work, we will e-mail you an invoice. For homeowners, the terms are Due upon completion. For businesses the terms may be 30 days or shorter. We prefer payment through mail by check, but we can take credit cards, with the fee being added to the invoice.

American Abatement’s employees are professionals trained to handle any type of asbestos materials and help determine the best course of action based on your specific needs.

We have exceptional credentials. All our workers are trained, experienced, reputable, and AHERA accredited. We have developed a reputation for being a safe, ethical, and cost-conscious asbestos abatement contractor.

American Abatement generally furnishes all:

LaborPayroll TaxesWorkers Compensation
MaterialsOwned EquipmentRented Equipment
Employee TrainingGeneral LiabilityPollution Liability

and all other items necessary to complete the specific asbestos abatement scope on-time.

  • We obtain all required permits including any necessary state, and local licenses.
  • We will assist you in completing a NESHAP application if required.
    We maintain the following information for a period of at least 30 years for each project.
  • Certificates of initial training showing that each Supervisor has successfully completed the required EPA approved Contractor/Supervisor course.
  • Certificates of refresher training showing that each Supervisor has successfully completed the required EPA approved Contractor/Supervisor annual refresher course.
  • Certificates of initial training showing that each asbestos worker has successfully completed the required EPA approved asbestos worker course.
  • Certificates of refresher training showing that each asbestos worker has successfully completed the required EPA approved asbestos worker annual refresher course.
  • OSHA Personnel air samples are analyzed by a qualified laboratory (NIOSH Proficiency Analytical Testing (PAT) Program or are accredited by the AIHA for asbestos.
  • OSHA Medical examinations.
  • Waste manifests signed by the transporter and the landfill at an EPA approved landfill.

Asbestos is a great building material. It has superior fire resistance. Water, a solvent does not deteriorate or change asbestos in any way. It is extremely strong. But, like all good things, the bad finally rears its ugly head. In your home you probably don’t realize it you could be surrounded by asbestos. It was manufactured in:

  • Floor Tile.
  • Mastics used to adhere tiles to floors.
  • Linoleum.
  • Ceramic tile.
  • Asbestos cement pipe (ACP)
  • Window caulking.
  • Door caulking.
  • Popcorn ceilings.
  • Drywall.
  • Texture on drywall.
  • Joint compound on drywall.
  • Stucco.
  • Plaster.
  • Flue pipes.
  • Boilers.
  • 1’ x 1’ ceiling tiles.
  • Lay in ceiling tiles.
  • Puck mastic adhering 1’ x 1’ tiles to drywall.
  • Mirror mastic.
  • Roofing.
  • Duct tape on HVAC ductwork.
  • Attic insulation.
  • Sink undercoating.
  • And other products.

There is only one way to positively identify asbestos, and that is specially trained persons with special microscopes that test for asbestos.

Probably not without contaminating your property. We use specialized equipment and have 24 years’ experience to safely remove asbestos. Without this knowledge and experience you will likely create a hazardous environment in your property. Although there are no rules or regulations preventing homeowners from doing this yourself, be aware, if you pay any person by money or barter any amount, you are now an employer, and are subject to all OSHA rules and regulations. This means you must be licensed, have the proper workers compensation insurance, workers training, medicals, and many other rules that a homeowner will not be capable of fulfilling. You could have expose yourself to future lawsuit that you will not be able to defend.

Not necessarily. Depending on your ability to get in and out of the house without walking through our containments will be the deciding factor. We can construct our containments in a way that you may be able to stay. We will always build a negative pressure containment to control asbestos fibers from getting outside the containment. So, the risk of exposure is minimal. If most of the home will be within the scope of our work, you will probably have to leave the home. We can work with you to make it as smooth as possible.

There are two main regulatory agencies that regulate asbestos removal. The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA). The EPA regulates friable asbestos in commercial and industrial buildings, and will require a NESHAP permit, which may have a fee. OSHA regulates every project, regardless of size. It would include any structure, residential, commercial, industrial and any other place. OSHA creates regulation for the safety of workers.

There are many other agencies that regulate aspects of asbestos removal, like the transporter would be regulated by ADOT. The landfill is regulated by the Arizona Department of Environment Quality (ADEQ). Some cities have there own regulations.

A contractor with a license that allows asbestos removal. There are many license designations over the years that cover asbestos removal, our license is an L5 Specialty.

Lead paint Questions

Lead is particularly dangerous to children because their growing bodies absorb more lead than adults do, and their brains and nervous systems are more sensitive to the damaging effects of lead. Babies and young children can also be more highly exposed to lead because they often put their hands and other objects that can have lead from dust or soil on them into their mouths. Children may also be exposed to lead by eating and drinking food or water containing lead or from dishes or glasses that contain lead, inhaling lead dust from lead-based paint or lead-contaminated soil or from playing with toys with lead paint.

Adults may be exposed to lead by eating and drinking food or water containing lead or from dishes or glasses that contain lead. They may also breath lead dust by spending time in areas where lead-based paint is deteriorating, and during renovation or repair work that disturbs painted surfaces in older homes and buildings. Working in a job or engaging in hobbies where lead is used, such as making stained glass, can increase exposure as can certain folk remedies containing lead. A pregnant woman’s exposure to lead from these sources is of particular concern because it can result in exposure to her developing baby.

Simple steps like keeping your home clean and well-maintained will go a long way in preventing lead exposure. You can lower the chances of exposure to lead in your home, both now and in the future, by taking these steps:

  • Inspect and maintain all painted surfaces to prevent paint deterioration.
  • Address water damage quickly and completely.
  • Keep your home clean and dust-free.
  • Clean around painted areas where friction can generate dust, such as doors, windows, and drawers. Wipe these areas with a wet sponge or rag to remove paint chips or dust.
  • Use only cold water to prepare food and drinks.
  • Flush water outlets used for drinking or food preparation.
  • Clean debris out of outlet screens or faucet aerators on a regular basis.
  • Wash children’s hands, bottles, pacifiers, and toys often.
  • Teach children to wipe and remove their shoes and wash hands after playing outdoors.
  • Ensure that your family members eat well-balanced meals. Children with healthy diets absorb less lead. Lead and a Healthy Diet.

American Abatement is certified by the EPA as a Lead-Safe contractor. We have removed lead-based paint on many projects in Phoenix and around Arizona, from commercial buildings, homes, and industrial facilities. We have performed chemical stripping, sand blasting, soda blasting, and mechanical stripping from steel structures and wood. In addition to removing lead-based paint in place we have performed component removal as well.

Mold Questions

Exposure to black mold can occur when airborne mold cells, mostly spores, are inhaled. We breathe in these cells every day, indoors and out. Usually, these exposures do not present a health risk. But when exposure is great, some individuals, particularly those with allergies and asthma, can experience illness that could be mild to serious or anywhere in between. The following is a description of the health problems that can be caused by exposure to mold.

Allergic Illness When mold cells are inhaled and land in the respiratory tract, the body’s immune system’s response to those invading cells can cause allergic illness. The immune system tries to destroy the mold as it would an agent, like a flu virus, that might cause infection. In a relatively small portion of the population (about 10 percent of people in the U.S.), the immune system overreacts and causes the allergic response that results in symptoms such as runny nose, scratchy throat, and sneezing. Most of us know this allergic illness as “hay fever” or “allergic rhinitis.”

Asthma is a lung disease in which the airways that carry oxygen to the lungs can partially close, causing breathing difficulties ranging from mild (such as a dry cough) to life-threatening (inability to breathe). North Carolina is during what is being called a world-wide asthma epidemic. A recent survey of North Carolina middle school children revealed that 10 percent had been diagnosed with asthma and another 17 percent had asthma symptoms that had never been diagnosed. More than half of asthmatics have respiratory allergies, often to mold. Molds can trigger asthma episodes in sensitive asthmatic mold species can cause respiratory infection when the live mold invades the tissues of the lungs or respiratory tract. This is not a significant risk for healthy people but can be dangerous for individuals with severely weakened immune systems.

Toxic Effects Very large doses of certain molds, whether inhaled or ingested, can result in poisoning caused by toxins, called mycotoxins, in the mold cells. It is not clear whether an individual can receive a high enough exposure to mold growing indoors to experience these toxic effects.
One mold that has been recently highlighted in the media is Stachybotrys chartarum (also known as Stachybotrys atra). Stachybotrys is a greenish-black mold that grows on materials with high cellulose content (drywall, wood, paper, ceiling tiles) that are chronically wet or moist. It is one of several molds that can produce mycotoxins under certain environmental conditions. The health effects of breathing mycotoxins are not well understood, but we do know that most molds can present some health risks, such as allergic reactions. Therefore, any mold growth in a building should be cleaned up, regardless of the type of mold. For additional information on this issue see Questions and Answers on Stachybotrys chartarum and other molds on the National Center for Environmental Health website.


When facing black mold, take care of the situation immediately to prevent further contamination. We are experts in removing black mold from all types of structures and surfaces, from commercial buildings to residential homes, no project is too large or too small. We offer competitive pricings to meet your needs. Our customers are highly satisfied with our superior work performance, and integrity. Call us for a free estimate to get rid of the mold problem.

We have removed black mold from hundreds of homes and business that have had damage created by:

  • Pipe Leaks
  • Roof Leaks
  • Floods
  • Overflowing Tubs
  • Toilet Problems
  • Poor Construction

General Questions

A 3rd party clearance is required for K-12 schools. There are no other regulations that require a 3rd party clearance. However, there are circumstances where it would be prudent to perform. Certain spaces that will be occupied after asbestos abatement should be cleared, hospitals, medical facilities, public spaces, spaces where children will occupy, childcare, any place where many persons will occupy or visit. If a building is going to be demolished after abatement, there is no need for a clearance. If you rent or lease your home or office space, it is a good idea. If a person has medical issues, you should probably do a clearance. After an abatement removing friable asbestos, it is a good idea to perform a clearance. After non-friable asbestos has been removed it is not so critical to clear. If you or a contractor removes materials and are unaware that it contained asbestos, it is a good reason to clear these areas.

A 2,000 square foot home will take about 2 1/2 days.

A 2,000 square foot home will take about 3 days.

A containment is a physical barrier created with poly sheeting to enclose the work area. If floor tile and mastic are to be removed, the containment will include critical barriers which cover doors, windows, register vents, and any openings. A splash guard using poly sheeting will be placed from the floor up 3 feet to protect wall surfaces from the chemical mastic remover. The walls and ceilings are not covered, this is because the floor tile and mastic are considered non-friable. Simply said, the removal process will not put asbestos fibers into the air. Negative air machines will still be used as an engineering control, as well as water. If we are removing popcorn ceiling texture which is considered friable, the containment includes everything in place for non-friable, but also all the walls and flooring are covered with two layers of poly sheeting.

Negative pressure is created using a special machine that pulls air into the machine and through a HEPA filter. Any asbestos fibers are trapped in the HEPA filter. This creates a flow of air into the machine, and that negative pressure in the containment keeps asbestos fiber from leaving the containment and contaminating your property.


Some concrete is more absorbent, and the chemical will soak into this concrete and take longer to dissipate. Normally over a few days the odor will be gone, or so slight you won’t be concerned. The chemical removed we use is environmentally friendly and considered low odor. It will not harm you or your pets. If you use a bucket of water with powder clothes detergent and mop the floor, this sems to help. In any event, the odor is harmless and will dissipate.

Very little. Give us access, make sure your personal items are removed from the work area. If floor tile and mastic are to be removed in a kitchen or bathroom take items off the counters, we are going to place poly sheeting over the cabinets to isolate and protect the contents. Make sure the power and water are on, if not available make sure we are told. In rooms where popcorn ceilings will be removed, all contents will need to be removed from the area.

The cost to remove asbestos flooring materials varies based on the following factors:

  • What type of flooring is it?
    • Floor Tile (12″ x 12″ and 9″ x 9″)
    • Sheet Flooring (Linoleum)
  • What type of adhesive was used?
    • Black mastic
    • Carpet glue
    • Epoxy’s or other adhesives
  • Is it a large open area like a Home Depot or an area with many small rooms like a home?
  • Is the flooring on concrete or wood?
  • Does the flooring go under cabinets or other structures?
  • Will all items on the floor be removed prior to the removal?
  • Are power and water available at the site?
  • Can a hazardous waste dumpster be placed close to the home or building?
  • Is scheduling flexible?
  • Will work need to be performed after hours, on weekends, or holidays?
  • Where is the work located in the State?

Insurance is an important aspect of asbestos abatement. Both General Liability and Workers Compensation insurance are required. The General Liability policy needs to have no exclusions for hazardous materials. It needs to be a “claims made” policy, not an “occurrence” policy. The policy should be at least an AM Best A rated. Workers Compensation is a very important part of the insurance you want the contractor to have. Be aware, some contractor that do asbestos removal when it is not their primarily type of work, probably are not carrying the proper Workers Compensation insurance. Which means, if their employee gets injured while working in your home, they have no coverage and you could become liable for their medical bills, and lost wages.

Every contractor must provide insurance to cover employees injured on the job. The NCCI (National Council on Compensation Insurance) rates contractors based on their safety record, which is shown by their claims. The NCCI rates a contractor each year, and this rating is used by insurance carriers to determine the rate the contractor will pay. If a contractor has had a history of injuries, the NCCI will rate them higher than 1.0 which is the standard rate. If a contractor has an E-Mod greater than 1.0 they will pay higher premium. Some contractors may have E-Mods of 3.5. That means their premiums are 3.5 time higher than standard. The E-Mod is based on the prior 3 years claims history. A bad accident will penalize a contractor for many years. American Abatements current E-Mod is .88, meaning we pay less than the standard premium, because we are safe. Our core crew of men have been employed by us for 24 years, and they are like family, and we take safety seriously.

The cost to remove asbestos popcorn ceilings varies based on the following factors:

  • What type of popcorn ceilings is it?
    • Normal popcorn.
    • Fireproofing that looks like popcorn, but it is much harder to remove.
  • Is the popcorn painted or unpainted?
    • Unpainted popcorn scrapes easily.
    • Painted popcorn creates a barrier that does not allow water to penetrate. This will cause more damage to the drywall, tape, and joint compound. Which will increase the repair cost prior to applying a new textured surface.
  • Is it a large open area like a furniture store or an area with many small rooms like a home?
  • Is the popcorn on drywall or concrete?
  • What are the ceiling heights?
  • Are there skylights?
  • The number of lights that will need to be removed?
  • Are there vaulted ceilings?
  • What floor is popcorn on?
  • Is scheduling flexible?
  • Will work need to be performed after hours, on weekends or holidays?
  • Where is the work located in the State?
  • Are power and water available?