What Is an Asbestos Survey and Why You Need One

The EPA estimates that 20% of all public and commercial buildings in the U.S. contain some asbestos material. Of those buildings, about 65% have at least some damaged material, while almost half have significantly damaged material.

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Considering how harmful asbestos is to human health, conducting an asbestos survey during commercial real estate transactions, before demolition or renovation, or after damage from a natural disaster is necessary.

So continue reading to learn how asbestos surveys work before you schedule one.

What Is Asbestos?

Asbestos is a group of six natural minerals made of fibers that are resistant to:

  • Corrosion
  • Electricity
  • Heat

Asbestos has two categories called, amphibole and serpentine. Amphibole asbestos has five different types. They are:

  • Actinolite
  • Amosite
  • Anthophyllite
  • Crocidolite
  • Tremolite

There is only one kind of serpentine asbestos called chrysotile. This type of asbestos is also known as “white asbestos.”

Asbestos Use

In the U.S., several industries heavily used asbestos from the 1930s to the 1970s because of its properties. However, once the public realized the health hazards, the government started severely limiting and regulating its use. 

Today, asbestos isn’t banned. But there is a long list of rules and regulations regarding its manufacturing, use, and safety precaution. Because of this, exposure mainly occurs through renovating or demolishing older buildings or homes.

What Is an Asbestos Survey?

Asbestos building surveys identify the asbestos-containing materials (ACMs) within a building, property, or structure. But since we cannot see asbestos fibers with the naked eye, the surveyor needs to take samples during the process.

Experts can examine the samples in the laboratory and identify if asbestos is present. The asbestos survey report will detail what types of asbestos are present if any. The survey will also tell you:

  • The location of the asbestos
  • The condition
  • The quantity
  • Any further action needed

Additionally, there are several types of asbestos surveys available for commercial properties. Scheduling the right survey is essential to the success of your project.

Let’s go over the different survey types.

Asbestos Screening

A screening is a great solution if you plan to repair damaged material that could cause health risks to occupants. It specifically assesses AMCs using samples in the damaged areas. 

HUD projects use these screenings, which are also called transactional surveys.

Limited Asbestos Survey

A limited survey is a more extensive sampling of a property. You can request a targeted sample of places like the following:

  • Roof 
  • Walls
  • Siding

You can test any particular area where you suspect the presence of asbestos.

Path of Construction/Pre-Renovation Asbestos Survey

This type of survey is similar to the limited survey. But, it’s limited to the path of construction or the building materials.

For example, if you are renovating one unit in a strip mall, you want to use this type of survey. It would ensure the renovation won’t impact the environment or release ACMs in disturbed areas during the project.

Pre-Demolition Asbestos Survey

The pre-demolition survey is the most extensive available. It inspects all facets of a building by destroying sections of the building to discover ACMs in hard-to-reach areas. 

If you discover asbestos during a pre-demolition survey, you will likely find more during demolition. Thus, your team can make adequate preparations.

Asbestos Demolition Survey or Asbestos Renovation Survey

Before a renovation or demolition, you must complete an asbestos survey to ensure the building’s disturbance or collapse won’t release dangerous asbestos fibers into the air. 

The law requires you to remove most forms of asbestos before a renovation or demolition. 

Asbestos Survey Requirements

As mentioned, the federal and state governments regulate asbestos use and removal due to its toxicity.

Yet, the federal government doesn’t require homeowners to conduct an asbestos survey upon selling a property. However, asbestos surveys are becoming increasingly popular for homeowners to adhere to safety standards.

Governmental agencies like OSHA and the EPA have set different commercial property standards. And most states have laws that describe how to handle asbestos in commercial properties. 

For example, Massachusetts law requires those planning a project involving the abatement, removal, or removal of asbestos to notify two local agencies. They are the Department of Environmental Protection (MassDEP) and the Department of Labor Standards (DLS).

The project may also require local approvals or permits before it begins. Even if an asbestos survey isn’t required for your specific project, you’ll want to conduct one to prevent future problems. 

Of course, those carrying out an asbestos survey must also be licensed and certified. 

How Much Is It for an Asbestos Survey?

The cost of an asbestos survey will vary depending on factors such as:

  • Size
  • Age
  • Location
  • Condition
  • Property type

Sampling is usually included in the cost of the survey. But, if there is a lot of asbestos present, the survey will cost more. 

If you require an asbestos refurbishment survey, plan to spend several thousand dollars for each commercial property. Refurbishment and demolition surveys involve inspecting all the hidden areas of the property. This includes:

  • Cement sheets
  • Flue and soil pipes
  • Insulation
  • Textured coatings

Benefits of Abestos Surveys

The most significant benefit of an asbestos management survey is that you’ll know how much ACM is present. This will help to create a removal strategy

Removing asbestos isn’t just best for health. It also decreases the risk of fire accidents and toxic materials burning in a fire. Further, by removing asbestos, you can complete your project faster, saving time and money. 

ACMs will slow down the project timeline and require more construction charges to remove it if you don’t conduct a survey first. Asbestos professionals have the training and qualifications to remove the toxic minerals, so all you need to do is call and schedule your survey.

Do You Need an Asbestos Survey?

Conducting an asbestos survey is the best way to identify the presence of ACMs and take action to remove them. Failure to identify asbestos will lead to expensive health and safety hazards in the future. 

To schedule your survey, contact us at Banner Environmental Services. We have 24 HR Emergency Service: 866-934-2374. With more than 25 years of commercial and residential experience, we are your go-to asbestos survey company in the Greater Boston area and throughout Rhode Island.

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