Help Desperately Needed - Slightly OT

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My wife and I finally began the demolition of our kitchen walls, etc. for the cabinet project and dream kitchen she designed.
We live in a 165 year old stone farm house and built the cabinets before beginning to tear down the false walls and insulate/rebuild new walls. We discovered an insulating material in the ceiling and stuffed behind the laths on an interior wall and are concerned that it might be asbestos. We are now awaiting lab tests. We have reason to believe the insultation was installed in 1967 as we found an old newspaper stuffed into an old duct behind the insulation.
Does anyone know of any sites that give information on identifying the insulation, perhaps using a microscope. Also, was loose asbestos still used in 1967. I would like to try to identify it for myself as the lab test for some stupid reason takes several days. We are hoping that it might be mineral wool instead. Needless to say, the demolition is on hold and since the kitchen was temporarily moved to two adjacent rooms we're in a big mess!!!
Thanks for any advice or help.
Cheers,
Glen Duff Rockwood, Ontario, Canada
"If it looks easy it will be difficult. If it looks difficult it will be impossible." anon
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Hi Glen, Asbestos is easy to identify using phase contrast microscopy. In addition to the scope you will need the proper mounting oils and a fare amount of training in the technique. The test takes about 5 minutes. JG
Glen Duff wrote:

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Sorry to hear it Glen. A google search using the terms "identify blue asbestos" brings in a number of hits, most of which indicate that there is little you can do until your test results are known, and that the use of asbestos carried on until the 70's.
All the best
Frank

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Someone in alt.home.repair might be able to help.
On Wed, 07 Apr 2004 05:18:45 -0400, Glen Duff

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I think I'd run an exhaust fan to pull out airborne particles until the results are back. The fan should be as near the stuff as possible and blowing out. Wilson

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I don't want to hijack the thread but how much danger would one be in if he took care of the problem himself ? What I am asking is you don't get lung cancer from one cigarette would there really be a health risk if he removed the asbestos himself ? Taking of course common sense precautions. Puff

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The other train of thought may be to simply encapsulate it. Seal it in there and put your cabinets over it. Sometimes it is better to leave it alone as opposed to tearing it out and letting it become airborne. You may even have to have an asbestos abatement contractor take care of it for you if you decide to remove it. Not sure what residential is like but in commercial applications it is a BIG project including hordeing off of the area and sealing.
Just a thought....
Paul

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On Wed, 07 Apr 2004 14:39:20 GMT, "Paul in MN"
|The other train of thought may be to simply encapsulate it. Seal it in |there and put your cabinets over it. Sometimes it is better to leave it |alone as opposed to tearing it out and letting it become airborne. You may |even have to have an asbestos abatement contractor take care of it for you |if you decide to remove it. Not sure what residential is like but in |commercial applications it is a BIG project including hordeing off of the |area and sealing. | |Just a thought....
I agree. It's only a problem when airborne. If it can't get into the air the hazard is nil.
But since a sample has been sent off to be tested, the cat may be out of the bag and the "authorities" might require abatement.
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In many areas a homeowner can do his own asbestos abatement. Really not a big deal, either encapsulate it, or wet it well when removiing it. Greg
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On Wed, 07 Apr 2004 05:18:45 -0400, Glen Duff

Asbestos dangers are WAY overhyped since 95% of that produced was the safer type. It's not like you're working in a dusty asbestos mine/factory for years. Dust masks are standard fare for demo work, anyway.
If it were my house, I'd have already had on my respirator or dust mask, continued the work, and be done by now. And I SURE as hell wouldn't have gotten the government involved. Crikey! That's a sure way to triple the cost of the house.
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Thanks for a lot of good comments. I pretty well agree with everything that's been said.
We're expecting the results later today and until then we're letting everything just sit. Any work we've done when there's any kind of dust was/is with masks on. I expect the danger is more or less minimized.
My worst nightmare is the arrival of a dozen civil servants dressed in space suits saying "we're here to help you!!!!" Probably the most dangerous thing that could happen.
Cheers and thanks, we'll let you know the outcome.
Glen Duff --------------------
Larry Jaques wrote:

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On Thu, 08 Apr 2004 07:05:38 -0400, Glen Duff

Yeah, lungs just don't like things inside them which mess with the way they work. Masks/respirators are good, cheap insurance. I've even started painting in the house with the organic vapor respirator on and it really helps reduce headaches for those few, potent, wet, offgassing hours.

Not dangerous, just an unexpected $450,000 expense. Best of luck with a clean bill of health from the lab. Make sure they tell you what type of asbestos it is _if_ it is, indeed, asbestos.
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... snip

Problem is, I don't think the regulations distinguish between the two. Like most knee-jerk legislation, a sledge hammer was applied to kill a fly.

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if you end up doing your own removal, consider spraying the stuff down with a bonding agent before you touch it, and throughout the process any time it looks like it might be thinking about releasing any airborne particles. something fast drying and nontoxic, like, say, shellac.....
On Thu, 08 Apr 2004 07:05:38 -0400, Glen Duff

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I have a co-worker that bought an old house. After many years he decided to remove the oil tank. He hired a contrcator to do the work. The contractor removed the tank and sent in some soil samples to the EPA. The ruled that there was excesive contamination and the bad soil must be sent to a hazardist waste site. $20,000.00 later the hole is filled in and the co-worker is standing beside the filled in hole whith the contractor. The contractor shakes his head and says, "It's a shame. The levels were so low that one good rain after we pulled the tank would have lowered them enough so it would have passed."
No, the police were not called.
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This is one of those cases where the EPA is being counter-productive in my opinion. What is going to happen is people will just never dig up old oil tanks, thus increasing the likelyhood of soil contamination. I know a friend of mine had his old oil tank just covered over because that is legal and they don't have to test the soil. Is that *really* what they want?
Try to do the right thing and the make it hard on you, do nothing and they leave you alone.
Bill Ranck Blacksburg, Va.
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On Thu, 8 Apr 2004 20:42:28 +0000 (UTC), snipped-for-privacy@vt.edu wrote:

No good deed goes unpunished
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If I had been your cow-orker the police or the morgue would have indeed been needed. Puff

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snipped-for-privacy@netscape.net says...

Yeah, I'll bet the homeowner was really regretting the fact the hole had already been filled in when the contractor said that.
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My father was a Johns-Manville plant worker for 40 years and died of asbestosis at age 73, and coincidentially I did some workers compensation defense representation for asbestos producing companies, so I know a little about this issue from a risk mitigation perspective.
First, in perhaps the vast majority of cases it takes significant exposure to asbestos over time, and most of the time this was unprotected exposure, to contract severe asbestosis. Lesser exposure can surely impact the lungs to some degree, and unprotected exposure should clearly be avoided if at all possible. It is an accretive illness, where the small fibers lodge in the lungs, and the body basically encapsulates the fiber, disabling the lung little by little, reducing breathing capacity. It is chronic, and long term, and most folks die from right sided heart failure, as a pulmonary (lung) insufficiency generally places undue strain on the right side of the heart. It is a wasting disease, as my father was 6'2" and over 250 well built pounds (not fat) in his prime, and weighed 125 lbs when he died. He was on oxygen for the last 2 years of his life, and spent the last 9 months bedridden. It wasn't pretty, but he kept his spirits up was pretty philosophic about the whole thing (i.e., they gave him a job in the depression and when he got back from WWII, etc.), and I was with him when he died, for which I am eternally grateful.
Second, the more insidious risk is that of mesothelioma, which is a cancer of the pleurial (spelling might be wrong) lining of the lung. The only known cause is asbestos exposure. There is no treatment, and it is uniformly fatal within a 6 to 8 month period, or shorter, depending on when it is diagnosed. I had two cases that involved a 4 month and a 6 month exposure to airborne asbestos by seasonal employees in a relatively clean plant environment, with no further occupational exposure, and the disease developed within a 7 to 15 year period. Such cases are in the distinct minority, perhaps the low single digit percentages. But the risk remains, and the disease is a fatal one.
I'm not trying to scare anyone, but just like you all will more than likely have a healthy respect for a spinning tablesaw blade, one should respect asbestos. This is why the guys who do abatement for a living generally wear those tyvek suits and face shield respirators and take a whole lot of other steps to protect their health. If you do attempt physical removal, or attempt encapsulation, get a good dust mask, not the paper kind, but the kind rated for such a hazardous material - 3M or MSA make good ones of this type. Get box fans in the windows to exhaust the dust and create a negative air pressure in the room to prevent migration of dust into other areas of the house (sealing the room doors with plastic sheets but with enough give allow creation of the negative pressure is also a good idea), wear old clothes that you can throw away with the asbestos debris after use and vacumn up all debris into a new vacumn cleaner bag and dispose of it immediately. Put all loose asbestos debris into heavy gauge plastic bags and tape shut with duct tape. Shower right after you are done. Common sense actions like this can make the operation relatively safe, but certainly not risk free. Ultimate disposal of the bagged debris depends on state law, i.e., it might cost you $$ to send it to a hazmat landfill, but better safe than sorry. Mutt

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