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Thread: What the Heck is the Deal with ASBESTOS

  1. #1
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    What the Heck is the Deal with ASBESTOS

    Hello all, been a while since I've been on the forum. Glad to be back with all the best electricians in the country!

    Anyhow, I'm wiring an old house and I start worrying about asbestos again, I generally wear an asbestos-approved mask when working on old stuff, but I've always kind of known that wasn't enough. So today I decide I'm going to start doing some research. My first stop is an asbestos "handbook" on Amazon. Basically this guy goes on about how asbestos will kill you and that it pretty much was put in everything including electrical insulation and wall coverings all the way up into the 1980's. He then details all the lawsuits and jail time people have received for unknowingly disturbing asbestos and how its illegal to even take a sample to the lab unless you are certified by the EPA.

    Next, I start reading my states laws and OSHA / EPA regulations. I learned their are 4 classes of asbestos work - the lowest level being Class IV which includes something as simple as a janitor buffing the floor. After trying to read the law, I surmised that myself, and pretty much every tradesperson, should be trained in Class III (minor cutting, drilling etc.).

    So I start looking for classes. Not a single one offered in my state that I could find. Now how the heck can this be regulation / law and I can't a find a single class offered? Seriously, I know everyone just ignores all this stuff, but I have spent hours trying to figure out where to even start to do it the "right way"

    So I'm wondering your thoughts. Do you or your employer have a set of rules / procedures regarding asbestos? What are they? If not, are you concerned about the health effects or possible lawsuits? Any recommendations on how to start this conversation with my own employer? I don't want to be a PITA, but I also don't want to die early, get sued, or worst-of-all contaminate a customer's house or children. I'm also interested if anyone has any insight on the real level of risk here. Is asbestos a carcinogen like second-hand smoke or is it much worse?

    Sorry for the long post! And thanks for the comments in advance.
    Master Electrician

  2. #2
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    My attitude toward it is that I've been around it for so long now that it will probably kill me at some point. The backstory is that I have done old work for most of my career on old buildings. Here in the northeast we have the oldest housing stock in the country and it's all filled with asbestos to some degree. There is really no way to escape from it. So I don't worry about it.

  3. #3
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    Quote Originally Posted by jes25 View Post
    I'm also interested if anyone has any insight on the real level of risk here.
    Is asbestos a carcinogen like second-hand smoke or is it much worse?
    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's accumulative, as there is not way to remove it. some of it will be
    coughed up, sneezed up, etc. but once it's there, it's there.

    it varies from state to state, but working with it is a special licensure.

    disturbing it is a no no. and yes, it's everywhere.

    scattergood generating station, right behind LAX is a good example.
    6 stories tall, and 300 yards long. the entire building was built of corrogated
    asbestos sheeting, 1/4" thick. if you need a hole cut, you mark it out, and
    an approved contractor cuts it for you. a 2' hole, a 1/4" hole. doesn't matter.

    knowingly handling it without certification will get hellacious fines if caught.
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  4. #4
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    Geez.. Asbestos... Simple: If you know you have it or suspect you have it then wear masks and get misters into place, along with heavy air filter stuff... but you do the same basics for heavy pest infestations as well...

    As you pull items mist the area and bag it immediately, dont let it sit around...

    Get it into the skip quick as well...

    Rinse area down and vacuum well...

    OR: Spray paint or spray foam the whole area to encapsulate it...

    If it is wrapping pipes and looks ok, and you do not need to mess with it, simply spray paint it to keep it better...

  5. #5
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    One can find Lead Renovator Certification Initial Courses being held sporatically

    there are also lead inspectors , however sparse

    ~RJ~

  6. #6
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    A few of us worked at a veteran's hospital for two years running pipe above the drop ceilings. The area was full of asbestos. We received training on how to protect ourselves and other's around us. Here's is what we had to do:

    Setup a negative pressure containment where we were working. Basically it looked like a phone booth which sealed to the ceiling and had a HEPA vacuum sucking all the air out and filtering it. The ceiling tile could not be removed until the containment was in place and running.

    While we were inside the containment we wore a bunny suit (aka disposable coveralls) with a hood and gloves and a respirator. We sealed the sleeves to the gloves with duct tape. We pulled the hood tight around our faces and sealed the opening below our chins with duct tape. We sealed the leg cuffs to our boots as well. Basically you are trying to keep all the asbestos out of the suit. You don't want to track it home on your clothes where you will expose your family.

    A specialized asbestos remediation contractor was there to remove asbestos when needed and properly dispose of it.
    Last edited by Coppersmith; 09-19-18 at 09:01 AM.

  7. #7
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    a bunny suit......i dunno Copper.....~RJ~

  8. #8
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    Quote Originally Posted by romex jockey View Post
    a bunny suit......i dunno Copper.....~RJ~
    Laugh if you like. but it's nice to be able to peel off coveralls covered in asbestos and toss the entire thing in the trash rather than get it all over your clothes.

  9. #9
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    Thanks all for the replies. After reading them and thinking a bit more, I think what's bothering me is how to handle a small project - say adding some lights- in an older building when the owners hasn't tested for asbestos. What do I look for? What can I do safely and what needs to be tested?

    I've reached out to local environmental firm regarding training. If anyone is interested, I'll report back when I learn more.
    Master Electrician

  10. #10
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    Quote Originally Posted by jes25 View Post
    Thanks all for the replies. After reading them and thinking a bit more, I think what's bothering me is how to handle a small project - say adding some lights- in an older building when the owners hasn't tested for asbestos. What do I look for? What can I do safely and what needs to be tested?

    I've reached out to local environmental firm regarding training. If anyone is interested, I'll report back when I learn more.
    i've got a firm that will do tests for $25 each and give a yes/no over the phone.

    it was a good way to find out without officially knowing, and without having a
    structure tagged officially.

    honestly, you can't officially do anything without test results. acoustic popcorn
    ceilings are notorious for them putting asbestos in the material, as it made it
    stick better, and you got better milage on the product.

    fireproofing, or monocote was also notorious for the same reason. people would
    have a 100 lb bag of asbestos, and throw a shovelful in the monokote pump
    every so often.

    a shop vac that is asbestos worthy is the festool vacs. they are NOT certified,
    but they could be. festool doesn't want the liability. they ARE lead paint certified,
    so you can do RRP with them.

    here's the thing. if you get it airborne, it gets everywhere, and ends up in airborne
    dust, and everyone breathes it. you'll notice i have not made one suggestion as to
    methods of handling it. really the last thing you want to do is do asbestos remediation
    without a certificate.

    when i was working for LADWP, they asked if i wanted the asbestos training and license.
    it would increase my marketability as an exempt employee, and virtually guarantee
    permanent employment. none of the civil servants would certify.

    all people with the cert did was work as an electrical mechanic in abatement areas.
    who wants to spend the rest of their professional life in a bunny suit with purple cartridges?
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