Commonly Encountered Asbestos Containing Material (ACM)
Although not all hard plaster contains asbestos, many samples taken during our inspections contain a low percentage of asbestos. Hard plaster typically crumbles to a coarse, sandy powder. Wood slats can be found behind the plaster. Most likely, several coats of plaster were applied over the years in homes that contain it, so all layers will need to be examined. Asbestos in plaster is especially of concern due to its friable (easily crumbled) nature. Any disturbance of asbestos containing plaster can release asbestos fibers into the air.
Troweled on textures and popcorn ceilings should not be disturbed unless they have been sampled by a licensed asbestos inspector. Removing these textures may seem like a simple do-it-yourself project, but if they contain asbestos it could be a costly mistake. Once an asbestos fiber is airborne, it can float around for up to two weeks. Even if it they settle in the dust, asbestos fibers can easily become airborne with the slightest air movement or disturbance. Imagine the difficulty of removing millions of microscopic fibers from your home!
Asbestos pipe wrap, duct wrap, and duct, tape are the most concerning ACM to have in your home. They contain about 40% asbestos, and can very easily release fibers if damaged. Raw edges, such as the ones seen in the photo to the left, will release fibers with every air movement and vibration. Properly encapsulating or hiring a licensed asbestos abatement contractor to remove the wrap are the two most effective ways of approaching this material in your home.
Ceiling Tiles, like hard plaster, do not always contain asbestos. Unfortunately, their unfinished edges and tendency to crumble with small amounts of pressure make them very likely to release asbestos, if they contain it. Due to damage over the years, certain ceiling tiles are likely to have been replaced with a different batch, so sampling each type of ceiling tile in a home or building can rule out the likelihood of asbestos exposure from this material.
Duct wrap is very commonly found in older homes. If it becomes damaged, or has any raw edges, it could be releasing asbestos fibers into your home. To make matters worse, the fibers will likely find their way into your duct work through tiny gaps and circulate throughout your home. DO NOT attempt to remove this material yourself. Any disturbance can cause the ACM to release fibers.
Asbestos duct tape is nothing like the strong metallic duct tape that we use today. It is very brittle and will tear easily . Once again, if your home or another space you occupy contains this Asbestos Containing Material (ACM) do not disturb it, and contact a licensed asbestos professional to help you explore your options for safe removal or encapsulation.
Sheet Vinyl Flooring
It is typically the mastic (glue) backing that contains asbestos, although it is possible for the flooring itself to be ACM. It is highly unlikely that everyday use will cause your vinyl flooring to release asbestos fibers into the air. However, if you are renovating be especially cautious not to sand, scrape, or otherwise reduce to dust the flooring or the glue backing as this will definitely release fibers of asbestos.
Asbestos floor tile was used because the addition of the deadly fibers makes flooring very strong and resistant damage. As with sheet vinyl flooring, the mastic almost always contains asbestos, but the added asbestos in the tiles themselves adds another risk. Typically, asbestos floor tile will be 9 inches by 9 inches square. If you have damaged floor tile and you aren't sure if it is ACM, we recommend contacting a licensed asbestos professional to determine the extent of damage and if any risk is present.
Concrete board (Transite) is most commonly seen as a siding material. It can be used in sheets or shingles. Although concrete board is very stiff and hard, when it is broken the raw edges can release asbestos fibers.