Asbestos can seem like a scary topic, especially if you live in an older home and are planning some renovations. But it doesn’t have to be scary if you know how to dispose of asbestos. With the right contractor, asbestos removal can seem like a breeze, and you can even dispose of asbestos yourself in some cases!

Step 1: Assess the Situation

Since asbestos is a carcinogen known to cause certain cancers, there are strict guidelines in place for safe disposal. Depending on the project and the material (friable versus nonfriable material), you may be required to have an asbestos survey performed or hire a licensed contractor for removal.

there are 2 types of asbestos materials: friable versus non-friable asbestos

The 2 Types of Asbestos Materials

There are two categories that asbestos materials can fall under: friable and non-friable. The differences between the two are pretty substantial, and knowing which type you are removing can help guide you in finding the right contractor (or removing the material yourself).

Friable Asbestos Material

Friable materials are brittle and easily crushed. This material is much more dangerous than nonfriable asbestos material as the asbestos fibers can break off very easily and spread throughout your home. For this reason, it is highly recommended to hire a DEQ licensed asbestos abatement contractor for safe removal. Examples of friable asbestos material includes, ceiling panels, ductwork, wall texture, insulation on pipes, and more.

Nonfriable Asbestos Material

Nonfriable asbestos material is much safer to handle as it contains binding material that makes it much harder to break apart and spread. While not as dangerous, having a DEQ licensed contractor remove the material is still a good idea. A Construction Contractors Board licensed contractor is also qualified to remove nonfriable asbestos. Examples of nonfriable asbestos materials include vinyl floor tile, cement siding, cement roofing, or black mastic.

asbestos abatement professionals testing for asbestos

Do You Need an Asbestos Survey?

In some cases (mentioned below), you may be required to have an asbestos survey performed before renovations or demolition can start. Here are the various scenarios where you may or may not need an asbestos survey:

  • An asbestos survey is not required (but is highly recommended for you and your family’s safety) if you plan to do the renovation yourself, you are the owner occupant, and the project is inside your home.
  • If the property is being demolished, you will need an asbestos survey. The results of that survey will need to be on-site during all demolition activities.
  • If you plan to hire a contractor, an asbestos survey will need to be performed.

How to Take a Sample for an Asbestos Survey

If you plan to take an asbestos survey, it’s important to do it properly. If your home is going to be demolished or a contractor will be removing the asbestos, an accredited asbestos inspector will need to conduct the survey. However, if you are the owner occupant, you can conduct the survey yourself. Here’s how to take a sample for your survey:

  1. Wet down the material before taking a sample to reduce risk of releasing asbestos fibers.
  2. Take a small (2” x 2”) sample, being careful not to break apart any more material than necessary.
  3. Place the sample in an air-tight container such as a zip-lock bag or glass jar. Each sample will require its own container.
  4. Clean up any material outside the container with a damp paper towel.
  5. Place a label with the address and date of the sample directly on the container.
  6. Send the analysis into a lab (here are some in Oregon).

Once you’ve got an assessment of the situation, it’s time to remove the asbestos.

remove asbestos materials from your home

Step 2: Remove the Asbestos

Now that you’ve assessed the type of material that needs to be removed and gotten an asbestos survey, it’s time to remove the asbestos.

Before starting, seal off the area with plastic sheeting to prevent the material from spreading throughout your home. Using a negative air machine (can be rented) will help to safely remove asbestos fibers from the air. And always use a respirator that is equipped with HEPA filtered cartridges (color coded purple) or an N-100, P-100 or R-100 NIOSH rating cartridge. These are specifically designed to filter out asbestos fibers.

When handling asbestos material, you’ll want to be as careful as possible to not break up the material as that’s how the particles spread. Removed material will need to be wetted and packed into heavy duty (a minimum of 6-mil thick) plastic bags or other leak tight packaging. Leaving asbestos material lying around or in open containers is prohibited in Oregon. Once the bag is full, an asbestos hazard warning label will need to be applied to the bag. The containers you place the bags in will also need a label containing your name and address where the asbestos was removed.

When the abatement is completed, use a HEPA vacuum (can be rented) to clean and decontaminate the work area of all asbestos fibers. Be sure to dispose of your clothing after working around the asbestos as well.

Hiring a Contractor to Remove Asbestos

If you plan on skipping the labor and hiring a contractor, remember to ask for their qualifications. Only DEQ licensed asbestos abatement contractors are qualified to remove friable asbestos material. Either a DEQ or Construction Contractors Board licensed contractor is qualified to remove nonfriable asbestos. Regardless of what type of asbestos you have, an asbestos survey will need to be done in order to hire a contractor. However, both will usually have access to the tools that will help isolate and remove the asbestos without spreading it. These tools include:

  • Negative air machines
  • HEPA vacuums
  • Respirators
  • Asbestos barrier tape
  • Viewing windows
  • Disposable clothing

Contractors will also be able to assist you with disposal once the asbestos is collected and cleared out.

A removal container is the safest way to remove asbestos from your home or office during renovations

Step 3: Dispose of the Asbestos

Once you’ve removed all the asbestos material and placed it into permitted containers, you’ll need to take it to a disposal facility. You may only dispose of asbestos at certain facilities permitted by the DEQ, and a completed Asbestos Waste Shipment Report Form will need to be provided at the time of disposal. It’s a good idea to call the disposal facility prior to delivering the waste as they may have additional requirements or might require an appointment to dispose of the waste.

If you do not wish to handle the waste, a disposal company such as Royal Refuse may be used. Royal Refuse is able to take your asbestos material to the proper facility without you needing to transport it yourself. Contact  us prior to your project and tell us you need asbestos disposed of. We’ll be able to help you make the best plan for safe removal.