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Thread: What the Heck is the Deal with ASBESTOS

  1. #11
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    I use to breathe Asbestos in the raw form. We had barrels of it. We stored it in our work area without lids on it. When we mixed it you could see the fibers floating in the air, We had several different kinds. The real tiny powdery kind, to the one inch fibers big enough to spray in attics. When the barrel got low, I would grab another couple bags and bust them to fill up the barrel again.
    We never wore a mask.

    It's been reported that some times it might take 20 to 30 years to feel the damage in your lungs. I breathed it in the raw form like this for about 5 years starting in 1976.
    We were told it would cause cancer. But... that's when Saccharine reportedly was causing cancer in Lab Rats, but... they had to eat equivalent to a 55 gallon drum of it.
    People were not taking Asbestos seriously because of the Saccharine study.
    Finally in Seattle, Osha came into the shop with a poster of an Asbestos fibers. The best way to describe it, is that the fibers have long barbs on it like a fish hook. Like Fullthrotl said once breathed in, a lot of it does not come out.
    Several years later. I was sent to another shop in Houston. They were still using it. I described to them the fish barb theory. They got rid of it immediately
    However , the good news, like me, is that most people never feel any affects of it.

    But … It has been reported that some people can barely come into contact with it. Then get Asbestosis and die.
    Their were about 15 of us that worked in the shop at the time. Several have died un-related to Asbestosis. None of us have had any affects from it. None of us smoked.

    None of us have got cancer from it ( Asbestosis) I'm not cheering that I've not had it. Its still possible. I get a lung x-ray every now and again.

    In Indiana, you have to be state certified to remove Asbestos, But their is no state license to do electrical work.

  2. #12
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    Quote Originally Posted by Buck Parrish View Post
    I use to breathe Asbestos in the raw form. We had barrels of it. We stored it in our work area without lids on it. When we mixed it you could see the fibers floating in the air, We had several different kinds. The real tiny powdery kind, to the one inch fibers big enough to spray in attics. When the barrel got low, I would grab another couple bags and bust them to fill up the barrel again.
    We never wore a mask.
    well, we've all had some variant of this... for me, i was 21
    and used to degrease capacitors impregnated with poly-b,
    one of the most notorious PCB's.

    what did i degrease with barehanded? vapor degrease
    using 1,1,1 trichlor at 150 degrees F.

    two years of that. i also tested those caps with 36KVDC
    barehanded. technique was everything. there was 1 amp
    available at that voltage.

    i used to do my dirt bike chains on my lunch break....
    degrease in the tank, and drop them in a bread pan full
    of poly-b, and a shot glass full of graphite. pull a vacuum
    on it.

    then put it on the bike, and spew it all over the desert.
    it's all coming back to me now....
    ~New signature under construction.~
    ~~~~Please excuse the mess.~~~~

  3. #13
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    Haha, everything in moderation!
    I still cast lead, have crawled over, under, through, soaked stuff in gas bare hands, eat fat, drink, stopped smoking years ago, speed a bit, California stops, salt, butter, ice cream, who knows what we have been exposed to. Take some of the new drugs your parts will fall off, when your sleepwalking naked on your way to gamble and have unprotected sex.

  4. #14
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    As with most carcinogens, there is not a clear understanding on what truly "triggers" the cancer, so risk is hard to really estimate. There is one fact, though, each fiber you breathe in could theoretically cause it. Really bad way to die too.

    I was a certified asbestos Building Inspector, Contractor/Supervisor, and Project Designer. You are right, EPA requires anyone even taking a sample be certified inspector - I think it's ridiculous, anyone can have any other carcinogen tested without any cert.

    You are looking for "O&M Training" (Operations and Maintenance). About $300/person, 16-hrs. I'm sure regionally that changes.

    1980 is the rule of thumb year cutoff for most residential materials - but that doesn't mean a contractor didn't have a warehouse full of chrysotile asbestos that they kept using. Despite popular belief, many uses were never "banned." Roofing/flashing mastic still has it on a fair occasion - we would find it on brand-new buildings in ~2008. https://www.epa.gov/asbestos/us-federal-bans-asbestos

    Here is a list of "suspect" materials: https://www.des.nh.gov/organization/.../materials.pdf While I can usually make an accurate guess on insulation and popcorn ceilings, there is no way to be sure without lab testing. Sheetrock is unpredictable.

    The building owner has the responsibility to do testing before anything is disturbed - this is often ignored.

    With the assumption that you will mostly be disturbing sheetrock or plaster in J-box sizes:

    To protect yourself -
    • Don't use power tools to cut into suspect material, only hand tools.
    • Use shaving cream when drilling - put a big blob of Barbasol on the wall and drill through the blob. Can try to use it when sawing, but it gets messy.
    • Don't use a vacuum without a real HEPA filter - a non-HEPA makes it worse by blowing the fibers into the air. If your vac didn't cost hundreds, it probably isn't true HEPA. The fibers take hours to settle.
    • Use wet methods (wet sponge/towel/etc.) to clean up; don't dry sweep.
    • If you are cutting in recessed lights, get the plastic can light "dust bowl" and utilize the shaving cream on the drywall and in the bowl to capture the dust - easier dust cleanup even if not asbestos.
    • Half-face respirator with P100 (pink) filters if it gets dusty (use the other controls to prevent dust). Your employer needs to have a Respiratory Protection Program for these though or they could get cited if OSHA sees the respirator in use.


    I am glad you also see the risk to the occupants after you have done your work -
    I can't count the number of times that some poor homeowner called me as a consultant to tell me that they had their popcorn ceilings or VCT removed without checking for asbestos first. More often than not, they had kids. Fortunately, they all lucked out and when we took samples from some dark corner that wasn't scraped, it was clean (post 1975 homes in AZ).

  5. #15
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    Quote Originally Posted by Fulthrotl View Post
    well, we've all had some variant of this... for me, i was 21
    and used to degrease capacitors impregnated with poly-b,
    one of the most notorious PCB's.

    what did i degrease with barehanded? vapor degrease
    using 1,1,1 trichlor at 150 degrees F.

    two years of that. i also tested those caps with 36KVDC
    barehanded. technique was everything. there was 1 amp
    available at that voltage.

    i used to do my dirt bike chains on my lunch break....
    degrease in the tank, and drop them in a bread pan full
    of poly-b, and a shot glass full of graphite. pull a vacuum
    on it.

    then put it on the bike, and spew it all over the desert.
    it's all coming back to me now....
    It's been nice knowing you.

  6. #16
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    Quote Originally Posted by romex jockey View Post
    One can find Lead Renovator Certification Initial Courses being held sporatically

    there are also lead inspectors , however sparse

    ~RJ~
    Lead is not asbestos. Lead awareness training is completely irrelevant.

  7. #17
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    Call the nearest OSHA office https://www.osha.gov/html/RAmap.html They won't take down your name or anything, and they truly want to help. Ask to speak with the Compliance Assistance Specialist (if there isn't one, ask to speak with the area director or assistant area director). Those folks may be able to point you toward the training you need. To get your feet wet, see if you can get into a 10- or 30-hour class in OSHA Outreach Training for the Construction Industry. That will give you an overview of asbestos, lead, electrical safety and many other topics. Ask the OSHA folks for the number of the nearest OSHA Training Institute Education Center. They might have a more specific course, maybe online.

    If you have employees and workers' compensation insurance, call your carrier's loss control rep. It sounds like you're not doing anything unusual, like asbestos abatement, just old work without disturbing a lot of presumed asbestos-containing materials, so they're well aware of the hazards you face and would rather help you than pay a claim later.

    If you're working for a large construction manager or GC, they have a safety person who may (or may not) be well informed, and probably have a safety program that will give you some guidance.

    If yours is a union shop, the IBEW might be able to hook you up.

    See if there's a local industry association like the Associated General Contractors or Associated Builders and Contractors. They'll have safety committees with members who can help.

    Good luck.

  8. #18
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    For anyone who is interested in this thread or topic, I have an update. First off, I think I have an answer to my original question about what the heck the deal is with asbestos. Without getting political, I think the issue is that everyone is so afraid of getting sued, and industry is so concerned with keeping the status-quo, we haven't been able to pass any sensible regulation on how to safely & practically handle asbestos. We are the only developed country without a current asbestos ban. Feel free to read up on it, you just have to wade through piles and piles of lawyer ads disguised as being real information. From what I've gathered the OSHA requirements are so impractical for a electrician adding an outlet, and everyone is so scared of being sued they would rather just ignore it then take do anything at all.

    All that to say, if you'd like to learn how to be safer around this stuff, I found some great publications for tradesman on asbestos from the UK and Australia. Here is an example:

    https://inspectapedia.com/hazmat/Asb...ades-guide.pdf

    Why can't we offer a practical guide like this?

    And for perspective, I'm coming from the standpoint of an electrician making his living cutting in plugs and recessed light in older homes. And I will be taking the OSHA course next month.......
    Master Electrician

  9. #19
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    I know this post is a month old, but here are my thoughts:

    I live in Virginia. A few years ago I was renovating a house that was suspected to have asbestos siding and possibly asbestos pipe insulation. In Virginia, you have to be licensed by the state to Abate certain types of asbestos. The siding was a non-issue, as long as you do not grind or drill it, you can pretty much remove it and throw it in a trash bag in a standard landfill. pipe insulation is far more strict, I believe you can remove 10 linear feet before you need a license and special abatement procedures.

    As far as interior surfaces, breathing sheetrock dust, insulation fibers, and being subject possibly to black mold or animal droppings during the course of normal work are all far greater dangers to me than asbestos. If you had to tent off a house, set up negative pressure HEPA filtration, and suit up like you're cleaning up a EPA Superfund Site every time you cut a 4in circle out of a ceiling for a can light, they would probably cost about $5,000 per can...

    If you're just worried about your own health, a respirator and Tyvek suit are good starts. A red 3M filter in the homeowners furnace and their air conditioning turned on along with a nice high flow HEPA filter in the work area would go farther. Spraying down the work surface with water is still yet another cheap option. If you are legally bound to do certain things when dealing with confirmed asbestos, it is best that you follow all guidelines/laws for your state.
    Electricians do it until it Hertz!

  10. #20
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    Quote Originally Posted by Fulthrotl View Post
    the hysteria around it is a bit nuts. it's not plutonium.

    however, getting it in your lungs is bad. the stuff is like microscopic
    foxtails. it gets lodged in tissue in the lungs, and festers.
    It is obvious you have more than passing knowledge of asbestos. So do I, having worked on naval submarines in the early 80's when they were actually making the final efforts to encase and/or eliminate asbestos from ships and boats.

    That said, the "hysteria" thing is a hard one. My boss died two years ago from Mesothelioma. Got it from working in the auto industry in Michigan, Indiana. My brother-in-law died from the same thing, likely secondary contact with his father who worked in a shipyard and had OCPD from it and/or from smoking.

    bottom line is it is hysteria to worry about most things, until it isn't. Basically until it is too late.


    I know what I don't know, and I know where to go to find it!

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