Nassau 516-942-0009 & Suffolk 631-243-6642
NYS. License Home Inspector
John Graham #16000005054
ASHI. Certified #206772
NAHI. Certified #10-9079
NYS. Termite #C1810801

Engineering Reports

 Full Certified Member 2003 /2004

ASBESTOS IN THE HOMEDamaged pipe joint on a steam pipes covered with asbestos-containing insulation.[animated poison symbol]

Asbestos was first used during the days of the Romans. The Roman restaurant owners would purchase table cloths made from this fireproof product. As the story goes, after each customer left his table, the table cloth was cleaned
by putting it in a fire. The food burned off the cloth and it was ready for the next guest. In modern times,
asbestos has been used widely in home insulation, floor and ceiling tiles, and plaster.

Asbestos is a naturally occurring fibrous mineral found in Canada, Africa, Eastern Europe and the United States. Asbestos fibers are long narrow and bind with materials often used in construction. Asbestos is also used in fireproofing. In addition, it was used extensively in residential and commercial buildings between 1920 and 1978.
You can not truly determine if a suspect material contains asbestos by visual inspection. Only examination of a
bulk sample under a microscope can truly identify asbestos fibers. There are several types of asbestos fibers that
may be found in a home. In the past, asbestos fibers were added to a variety of products to add durability,
insulation properties and fire resistance.

The mere presence of asbestos materials in a home is usually not a serious problem or hazard. The scientific community debates the hazards of non-occupational exposure, which include exposure in houses, schools and
offices. Thus, the health effects of non-occupational exposure are unknown. The danger is that asbestos materials
may be, or become damaged, or disturbed over time. Damaged asbestos referred to as (friable by EPA definition)
may release asbestos fibers and become a health hazard. Asbestos is most likely to release fibers when it is in a
friable condition. Friable means that under hand pressure, the material can be crushed into a powder. A certified inspector can evaluate whether materials are friable or damaged, how accessible they are, the potential for damage
in the future, and the best way to keep the material from becoming airborne. Asbestos materials that would crumble easily if handled, or that have been disturbed by sawing, scraping or sanding into a powder, are considered friable and are a potential health hazard.

Asbestos should not be disturbed, sampled, removed or repaired by anyone other than a qualified and state
licensed asbestos professional.

Studies have shown that exposure to asbestos fibers can lead to an increased risk of: Lung cancer;

Mesothelioma, a cancer of the lining of the chest and abdominal cavity; and;

Lungs being scarred with fibrous tissue. (asbestosis)

The risk of these cancers may increase with the number of asbestos fibers inhaled. Smokers are even greater risk when inhaling these fibers. Smoking has been the common denominator in most asbestos-related diseases. EPA warns that the dangers of asbestos exposure multiply for smokers. A smoker exposed to asbestos fibers is at least 50 times more likely to develop lung cancer than a nonsmoker exposed to asbestos. Asbestos represents a very minimal health threat as long as the material is in good condition and is not disturbed.

The symptoms of the diseases have a latency period and do not usually appear until 20 to 30 years after the first exposure of the inhaled asbestos fibers. People who develop asbestosis have usually been exposed to high levels of asbestos fibers for an extended period of time. However, no dose relationship has been established. Any exposure
could lead to illness. Most people are exposed to small amounts of asbestos fibers daily and usually do not develop these health problems.


Asbestos may be found throughout the home in materials such as insulation around pipes, ducts, and furnaces,
ceiling tiles, fiber insulation, plasters, vinyl flooring, spray-on acoustical insulation, artificial fireplace ashes and embers, and some wallboard patching compounds. Outside uses of asbestos include exterior roofing shingles, siding and concrete water mains. Asbestos is also found in the lining of brake shoes.

Asbestos type materials can be found on, or in:

Heating Equipment, Fireplaces, Wood/Coal Burning Stoves and their components.

Resilient Floor Tiles, their backings and adhesives.

Cement Sheets, Millboards and Paper used as insulation around fireplaces and stoves.

Soundproofing or Decorative Materials sprayed on walls and ceilings.

Patching and Joint compounds for walls and ceilings, and Textured paints.

Roofing and Siding Shingles.

Artificial Ashes and Embers in gas fired fireplaces.


Encapsulates are used to prevent fiber release and hold asbestos containing material intact. There are several
types of encapsulates on the market today including penetrating and bridging compounds. A penetrating encapsulate can be applied like paint. It seals the surface but does nothing to bind the asbestos containing material. Therefore, special care must be taken to add a thick layer of encapsulate which will weaken that bond and cause the material to delaminate.


If the asbestos-containing material is in an area where it will not be disturbed, the area can be sealed off from surrounding areas. An example of this is asbestos-insulated pipes in a crawl space which can be sealed off from
the main living space. The crawl space entrance should be labeled so that future owners will know to use caution
when entering such an area.


This should be considered as a last resort (unless the ACM is significantly damaged) due to its high cost and should only be performed by a certified and insured asbestos professional. When a removal operation is in progress, the
work space is isolated with plastic and put under negative pressure using negative air machines utilizing high efficiency particulate air (HEPA) filters. The ACM is removed after wetting with amended water. These steps prevent asbestos fibers from migrating out of the work area into other areas of the building. Small amounts of material can sometimes   be removed by the glove bag method. After all of the material is repaired or removed a clearance air
sample is taken by an independent third party to verify the success of the abatement.


The Asbestos Hazard Emergency Response Act (AHERA) requires certification for any asbestos-related work performed in schools. Most professionals will require AHERA certification when selecting an asbestos contractor for residential or commercial projects.

New York State has strict regulations regarding the qualifications for licensing of trained qualified personnel to inspect, analyze and abate asbestos containing materials. Bulk Sampling

A licensed inspector will wet the surface of the material to be sampled, a small core is obtained or a sample is scraped off of the suspect material, placed in a labeled container, and then sent to a lab for analysis. If a suspect material is labeled with a manufacturer's name or product number, a licensed inspector can look up the material in a product identification list to determine the amount and type of asbestos present. Asbestos containing material (ACM) is defined by the EPA as any material or product that contains more than one percent asbestos. Some states regulate smaller percentages of asbestos containing material. The laboratory analysis technique involving Polarized Light Microscopy (PLM) determines both the percentage and generally the type of asbestos present in a sample.

Remember, only bulk sample analysis can determine the presence of asbestos. Only use licensed qualified personnel
to perform an inspection, sample analysis or abatement.

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