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RHP’s licensed inspectors are experienced in providing solutions to simple and complex questions and concerns relating to asbestos containing materials (ACM) in commercial buildings and properties and how to avoid or mitigate risks associated with these materials. Our processes commonly include sample collection of building materials, air monitoring and sampling of workers or individuals, and audits and development of Operations and Maintenance (O&M) Programs.
Previous Commercial Uses of Asbestos
Asbestos has been used in building materials and consumer products for decades and in areas outside the United States continues to be used in manufactured products today. Some such products may be approved for use in the United States with safety measures and direction for applications such as asbestos cement pipe, specialty application sealant devices, and caulking products.
In general, it continues to be acceptable for asbestos to remain in place within buildings as long as it is not disturbed. Any material or product that is asbestos containing with the risk of being disturbed presents an exposure hazard to workers and/or building occupants.
Requirements for Asbestos Management
Schools are required to develop and maintain an Asbestos Management Plan which documents all asbestos-containing materials within the building and is updated to reflect material status (e.g., location, condition, response actions, etc.). Commercial buildings are required by the EPA to develop and maintain an Operations & Maintenance (O&M) Program. Your O&M program maps all asbestos containing materials, their condition, and should always be reviewed in advance of any work activities that may affect the condition of the materials. The O&M program is intended to minimize exposure of building occupants, workers and contractors to asbestos fibers that could be released either during a planned activity or an emergency response. It should include worker training, proper cleaning techniques and procedures, best work practices, and material surveillance. Properly maintaining your O&M program and program documents ensures the health and safety of building occupants and directs safe working conditions for your workers and contractors as it relates to managing asbestos in a building.
Risks of Asbestos Exposure
As a recognized human carcinogen, asbestos exposure can lead to serious health risks and potentially life-threatening consequences. Asbestos is regulated by Federal Government Agencies such as the EPA and OSHA, by state agencies such as ILOSHA, regional Health Departments such as Cook County, and municipal entities such as the City of Chicago. If asbestos fibers are inhaled in sufficient quantities, this may cause the development of scar-like tissue in the lungs and respiratory system. Asbestos exposure has been associated with an increased risk of diseases such as asbestosis, lung cancer, and mesothelioma, a rare cancer of the lining of the lungs. Studies have shown that a combination of asbestos exposure and cigarette smoking can significantly increase the risk of serious disease.
Commercial Asbestos Inspection & Sampling Services
RHP’s team of licensed inspectors conduct asbestos inspections and surveys in all types of commercial buildings, including retail, office and multi–family residential structures. RHP professionals are well versed in and stay abreast to changes in local, state and federal regulations and guidance through annual refresher training and participating in accreditation processes.
To determine whether a building material contains asbestos or is suspected to contain asbestos it is necessary to collect a small sample for analysis at an accredited laboratory. RHP conducts building inspections to identify suspect materials that may contain asbestos, collect samples of those materials, and then analyzes the materials at an accredited laboratory to determine whether asbestos is present.
Asbestos Audits & Operations and Maintenance Program Consulting
RHP’s professionals provide training and consulting services in Operations & Maintenance (O&M) Program development for commercial buildings of all types including office buildings, shopping centers, apartment buildings and health care facilities as well as public buildings such as schools. Training on the use of an O&M Program is conducted in person or can be attended remotely through RHP’s online training platform.
RHP’s professional asbestos inspection, sampling, monitoring, and program auditing services are designed to maximize the quality of an O&M Program and ensure its accuracy, its practical application and effectiveness in protecting the health and safety of building occupants.
Asbestos Project Management Services
RHP’s Project Managers (PM) and ASPs provide project management support in a variety of commercial and industrial settings including schools. PMs act as the building owner’s or school’s representative on asbestos abatement projects and are responsible for ensuring the abatement contractor is complying with the contract specifications and state and federal regulations.
Air monitoring conducted by a PM is done primarily to ensure air quality outside a contained area remains unaffected by removal/abatement activities done inside a regulated contained work area. Secondly, personal air monitoring can be conducted to assess the fiber concentrations workers or contractors may be exposed to during abatement activities. This assessment can be used to determine appropriate levels of Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) and ultimately adherence to Occupational Safety & Health Administration (OSHA) permissible exposure levels (PELs). A detailed record of air monitoring must be maintained during the abatement project by the PM and is typically inserted into a building’s Operations & Maintenance (O&M) Program or a school’s Asbestos Management Plan.
When to Request Commercial Asbestos Services
Commercial Property Due Diligence
During a commercial property transaction, establishing whether asbestos is present can affect the value and/or requirements of an ownership transfer. Lender requirements or the age of the property/building, site conditions, and purchaser’s intended use are all factors that may determine the need for a comprehensive asbestos inspection or limited assessment during a property transaction. Liability for hazardous materials in place are sometimes negotiated monetarily or through reserved liability.
Facility Demolition or Renovation
Prior to the demolition of commercial buildings, the National Emission Standards for Hazardous Air Pollutants (NESHAP) requires that an asbestos inspection be conducted to determine whether asbestos is present in building materials may be disturbed. This federal standard does not apply to single-family homes or multi-family dwellings with 4 units or less but some local county, city, or municipalities (e.g. Cook County, IL) carry similar inspection requirements for demolition or renovation projects/permits that cover all building types, including single-family homes. Building or demolition permits often require an inspection report from a licensed asbestos building inspector.
In an emergency situation such as a flood, storm, or fire, hazardous building materials or debris toxic or hazardous building materials such as asbestos may be overlooked in the haste of the cleanup process. Whether the building material of concern has been damaged or is scheduled to be disturbed or removed during a restoration project, it is important for a trained asbestos building inspector to assess the situation before restoration, demolition or construction activities begin so that an appropriate mitigation plan can be developed that considers the presence of hazardous materials. This protects both the workers performing the work and current or future occupants of the home or building. RHP’s team of inspectors are accustomed to working with insurance companies, adjusters, restoration contractors, and building owners to coordinate rapid responses and sampling of suspected ACMs and immediate laboratory analysis to allow for fast decision-making and not impede the progress of restoration work.
Commercial Air Monitoring for Asbestos
Commercial buildings of a certain era or class may contain building materials or products that are asbestos-containing materials (ACMs). This leaves building owners at risk for liability and claims of exposure by employees, workers and/or contractors. Owners and workers that interact routinely with asbestos-containing materials (ACMs) or are working in conditions that they may do so unintentionally, should be receiving information and training on the risks associated with potential asbestos exposure.
When workers, building occupants or contractors impact ACMs within a building, air monitoring may be conducted to ensure that any potential exposure to airborne fibers is below regulatory levels and the surrounding areas remain unimpacted by the work. When air monitoring is conducted, RHP’s licensed Inspectors and Air Sampling Professionals (ASPs) utilize state-of-the-art equipment and follow state and federal guidance to assess workers and surrounding areas.
Contact Us About Our Commercial Asbestos Audits, Inspections and Testing Services
RHP’s full suite of asbestos consulting services including building inspections and audits, air sampling and monitoring, abatement project management, O&M Program and Asbestos Management Plan consulting, and asbestos analytical testing are designed to keep your business compliant with federal, state, and local regulations and standards as well as maintaining a healthy indoor environment for building occupants.
Contact RHP for an initial consultation and learn more about our professional services.
Content Reviewed & Verified by Our Asbestos Experts
Jacob Persky, MPH, CIH – A board-certified Industrial Hygienist and holds multiple professional licenses for asbestos and lead in Illinois and Indiana.
Ben Heckman, MPH, CIH – AHERA trained and accredited and holds certifications as a Cal/DOSH Certified Asbestos Consultant (CAC) and Cal/DPH Certified Lead-Related Construction, Inspector/Risk Assessor, and Project Monitor.