Asbestos siding

Last Edited By Krjb Donovan
Last Updated: Mar 13, 2014 03:06 PM GMT


Hello, The house next door to me is being demolished in a few days. It has asbestos siding. The village and the demolition team does not require any action other than watering down the house to contain general dust. I understand that the disruption of the siding can be a problem. What action would you recommend?



The National Emission Standard for Hazardous Air Pollutants (NESHAP) is the federal regulation which regulates asbestos emissions (among other things) during a building renovation or demolition project. NESHAP does not however apply to residences of 4 units or less (i.e. single family homes, or 2/3 unit townhomes, etc.). In many areas of the country where no stricter county or city laws are in place, it is perfectly legal to demolish a house with asbestos in it. In some states, and many metropolitan areas, local regulations have been enacted to regulate such activities even with single family homes to protect public health. Apparently, you live in an area where only the federal regulations apply, and they do not cover single family homes. Therefore, the contractor is free to legally demolish the house with transite asbestos siding in place.

It is good that they are planning to use dust supression by hosing the structure during demo. If this approach is employed properly, it should not present a significant risk to you as a neigbor because by keeping the material wet, asbestos fiber release resultant from breakage of the transite shingles is minimized. What asbestos fibers to get released into the air should be suppressed by the water dousing. The effectiveness of this approach is highly dependant upon how diligent the contractor is whith the water hose. I have witnessed good and bad jobs with this approach. An example of a poor approach would be a contractor using a garden hose or similar light duty spray, and just occasionally spraying the structure to say they did so. An example of a good approach would be a fire-hose hooked up to a fire hydrant, with a dedicated worker constantly directing the fire-hose spray across the structure and following the pathway that the back-hoe is taking to knock down the structure.

The key parameter, is there should be "No visible dust emission." If you see visible dust emanating from the structure during the demolition, this would be cause for concern because the emissions are not being adequately controlled and asbestos dust could be getting into the air. If you observe no visible dust emissions, and the demo crew appears to be doing a good job with keeping the structure wet and supressing dust, then I would not be concerned.


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