Asbestos Management in Older Buildings: Identification, Abatement, and Compliance Essentials


older buildings

Asbestos, a naturally occurring mineral, was widely used in building materials during the 20th century due to its remarkable versatility, durability, and fire-resistant properties. However, later on, it has been recognized as a hazardous material, with prolonged exposure being linked to serious health issues, including lung cancer, mesothelioma, and asbestosis. In response, regulations have been enacted to limit asbestos use and to define strict procedures for its identification, management, and removal in buildings.

For property owners and managers of older buildings, understanding the risks associated with asbestos-containing materials (ACMs) and the need for professional asbestos management services is crucial in ensuring the safety of their occupants and staying compliant with legal obligations. It is essential to partner with a certified asbestos management company that can assist with testing, abatement, and compliance, reducing health risks and ensuring conformity with applicable regulations.

In this article, we will delve into the critical aspects of asbestos management in older buildings, including the importance of identification, abatement, and compliance. We will provide insights into the asbestos regulatory landscape and discuss the role of professional asbestos management services in creating safe environments for occupants and preserving the structural integrity of the building.

Asbestos in Older Buildings: Potential Risks and Health Effects

Asbestos was extensively used in various construction materials until the late 20th century, including insulation, floor tiles, roofing, siding, and more. When these materials become damaged, improperly removed, or disturbed during renovation projects, asbestos fibers can become airborne and pose significant health risks when inhaled.

1. Respiratory Issues: Inhalation of asbestos fibers can lead to breathing difficulties, chronic coughing, chest pain, and lung infections.

2. Asbestosis: A non-cancerous lung disease caused by scarring of lung tissue from long-term exposure to asbestos fibers, resulting in reduced lung function and shortness of breath.

3. Lung Cancer: The most common asbestos-related disease, with a higher risk in smokers exposed to asbestos.

4. Mesothelioma: A rare and aggressive form of cancer affecting the lining of the lungs, chest cavity, or abdomen, almost exclusively linked to asbestos exposure.

Asbestos Identification: Inspection and Testing

To ensure the safety of building occupants, it is crucial to determine whether asbestos-containing materials are present in older buildings. Proper identification involves professional inspection and testing services.

1. Visual Inspection: A certified asbestos inspector will assess the condition of the building and identify potential sources of asbestos, such as damaged insulation, deteriorated floor tiles, or other materials suspected of containing asbestos.

2. Sample Collection: The inspector will collect samples of the suspected materials for laboratory analysis, following strict procedures and safety protocol.

3. Laboratory Analysis: The collected samples are analyzed using specialized testing methods, such as polarized light microscopy (PLM) or transmission electron microscopy (TEM), to confirm the presence and type of asbestos.

4. Reporting: Based on the test results, the inspector will provide a detailed report outlining the location and condition of ACMs, along with recommendations for abatement or management.

Asbestos Abatement: Safe Removal and Disposal

If asbestos is identified in a building, professional abatement services are essential for securing a safe environment and minimizing health risks. Asbestos abatement involves the safe removal, containment, and disposal of asbestos-containing materials, following strict regulations and guidelines.

1. Containment: The affected area is cordoned off to prevent the spread of asbestos fibers to surrounding spaces, using barriers, negative air pressure, and HEPA-filtered exhaust systems.

2. Removal: Trained and experienced abatement professionals, wearing appropriate protective gear, will carefully remove the ACMs, minimizing the release of asbestos fibers.

3. Clean-up: After removal, the containment area is thoroughly cleaned using HEPA-filtered vacuums and wet-wiping techniques to eliminate residual asbestos fibers.

4. Disposal: All removed ACMs and contaminated materials are appropriately sealed and labeled, then transported to a designated hazardous waste disposal facility.

Asbestos Compliance: Legal Obligations and Documentation

Property owners and managers must adhere to specific federal, state, and local regulations regarding asbestos management. Compliance includes proper identification, abatement, and documentation, ensuring the safe handling and disposal of asbestos-containing materials.

1. Regulatory Adherence: Understand and comply with the EPA’s National Emission Standards for Hazardous Air Pollutants (NESHAP) regulations, as well as the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) guidelines and any applicable state or local requirements.

2. Notification: Notify relevant authorities about asbestos-related projects, including building permits and submitting asbestos abatement notifications.

3. Contractor Licensing: Engage the services of certified and licensed asbestos abatement professionals to ensure proper removal, containment, and disposal procedures are followed.

4. Record-Keeping: Maintain accurate records of asbestos-related work, including inspections, abatement activities, and waste disposal documentation, proving compliance and providing critical information during property transactions or future renovations.


The presence of asbestos in older buildings poses potential health risks and legal obligations for property owners and managers. Understanding and addressing these hazards through professional asbestos identification, abatement, and compliance services can help ensure the safety of building occupants and protect property investments. By partnering with certified asbestos management professionals, property owners can effectively mitigate risks associated with asbestos-containing materials, creating safer and healthier environments for tenants, employees, and clients.

As an asbestos remediation company, Element Environmental is dedicated to providing top-quality asbestos identification, abatement, and compliance services for Oregon’s North Coast. Our team of certified professionals is ready to help you manage the risks associated with asbestos in your building and ensure adherence to relevant regulations. Contact us today to learn more about our asbestos identification, abatement, and compliance services!