How to Clean Asbestos

Asbestos is very dangerous to the lungs.
Asbestos is very dangerous to the lungs. (Image: signage dust masking image by Jauhari Subhi from Fotolia.com)

Asbestos is a fiber material that absorbs water and retains heat. It was used extensively in building materials in some areas until the 1980s. Although asbestos does not have immediate health effects, long-term damage may occur to the lungs if asbestos is inhaled. Smokers have a high rate of asbestos-induced lung cancer, according to the Environmental Protection Agency. Cleaning asbestos from the home will reduce health risks as materials deteriorate. Cleaning must be done with safety guards in place to reduce the possibility of exposure to the material. If in doubt, have a professional clean your home.

Things You'll Need

  • Safety mask
  • Disposable clothing
  • Asbestos-grade plastic
  • Tape
  • Asbestos-grade storage bags
  • HEPA vacuum

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Put on a heavy-duty respirator to protect your lungs as well as safety glasses and disposable, protective clothing. Do not use thin surgical masks; instead use asbestos-graded masks for clean up.

Remove all fabric-covered materials from the room you are cleaning.

Tape all cracks along the windows and doors of the room you are working in to prevent dust from escaping the room. Overlap pieces of tape for the best coverage.

Place an asbestos-grade piece of plastic liner along the floor to catch dust falling from your cleaning effort, unless you are removing asbestos tile from the floor. Tape the plastic film so that it comes up the wall several inches. Run a piece of tape along the top of the plastic along the wall to prevent dust from falling through.

Wet the asbestos material before removal to reduce dust.

Pry up asbestos tile using a putty knife and a hammer to keep breakage to a minimum. Hold the putty knife at a 45-degree angle and strike it with a hammer. Remove the whole piece and put it in your asbestos approved bag.

Vacuum the dust using a HEPA vacuum cleaner, vacuuming slowly to prevent dust clouds.

Remove your disposable clothing and place it in the disposable bag. Dispose of the bags according to local guidelines.

References

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