Asbestos is a naturally occurring mineral that was commonly used in the mid-twentieth century for insulation of buildings and electrical wires. This mineral is very durable and resistant to fire, which explains why it was used for making protective clothing material for professionals working in extremely hot environments such as volcanologists and firefighters. While asbestos is still used in little amounts in various industries such as the automotive and construction industries, its usage has been largely phased out in recent years. This is due to the fact that the material is considered to pose significant health risks to individuals who are exposed to it. 

Scientific studies have shown that when asbestos-containing materials (ACMs) are damaged, the fibers can be released into the air thus exposing individuals who inhale to serious health risks such as cancers. This is why the creation, installation, and removal of asbestos-containing materials is tightly regulated by the authorities in many federal states and local authorities. 

Why is an Asbestos Survey Necessary?

It is not always possible to determine the presence of asbestos purely by visual examination. Due to this reason, an asbestos survey is usually conducted to confirm whether or not a material suspected of containing asbestos really has the mineral. The process typically entails sampling the material and subjecting it to a thorough assessment in a lab to determine the presence and quantity of asbestos in the ACM. 

If you are a building owner or intend on buying a building, you need to be aware of the possibility of the building having ACM so that it can be examined and removed safely. In cases where the ACM is properly sealed and poses no health risk, a management plan is usually recommended.

When are Asbestos Surveys Conducted

Some of the instances where an asbestos survey must be performed as required by law are as follows: 

  • During real estate property transactions, i.e, buying/selling of a building
  • During financing of real estate projects
  • During building renovation projects
  • Prior to the demolition of a building
  • In case a building is damaged by natural disasters such as floods and hurricanes

It should be noted that most local building departments consider an asbestos survey as mandatory, and will not issue building permits until one is conducted. This requirement is enforced as a standard safety measure to protect building workers and occupants since renovation and demolition activities may release asbestos fibers into the air, thus exposing them to health risks.


What are the Different Types of Asbestos Surveys?

There are four different types of asbestos surveys that can be conducted on a building. These are: 

  1. Asbestos Screening
    This is typically recommended in case a damaged building which is being repaired is suspected of having ACM material which might expose building occupants to health risks.
  2. Limited Asbestos Survey
    This type of survey entails a more extensive sampling of building materials that are thought to have asbestos.
  3. Path of Construction / Pre-Renovation
    This is a comprehensive asbestos survey, which is limited to the path of construction and the building materials used. It is performed to make sure that the renovations being carried out do not release ACM to highly susceptible areas.
  4. Pre-Demolition Asbestos Survey
    This type of survey is carried out on both the interior and exterior of a building prior to demolition. It is meant to protect construction workers from harmful ACM material which might be damaged during the process.


Asbestos Management

Apart from removing asbestos-containing materials from a building, there are other measures that can be recommended, depending on the risk involved. Some of these include air monitoring, abatement oversight, and clearance sampling to make sure the air is not exposed to the mineral after the ACM has been removed. However, the management plan is only determined after an asbestos survey has been performed to verify the existence and quantity of the mineral.

In Conclusion

Conducting an asbestos survey is absolutely necessary since it protects building occupants from exposure to the toxic mineral which can lead to serious health problems and fatality. If you are planning on purchasing a building, therefore, make sure you get it checked for ACMs and have it removed or managed as per the standard requirements before finalizing the purchase transaction.


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