Inspections and testing for asbestos materials. Asbestos is found in our environment having been used widely to control heat within its source. Therefore we find it along highways, from automotive brakes, and in many older structures as a component in ceiling tiles (remember the ones with the holes---they often contain asbestos), acoustic ceiling materials, floor tiles and rolled flooring materials, wrappings that surround heat ducts and plenum chambers, and even heater exhaust vents themselves!
The material was considered an ideal substance to give added protection against heat---and it was inexpensive. This resulted in its being widely used.
It is suggested by some authorities that the material when left undisturbed the presence of asbestos in building materials is not hazardous, but when abraded, shredded, scraped, or otherwise disturbed, asbestos becomes friable and the particles can become airborne. Then it can become a health hazard, especially when blown through damaged ducting into the home or business setting.
Some heater ducting has hard metal tubing with asbestos sheathing on the outside. Other heater ducts are comprised of a thin foil interior and corrugated asbestos material for the structural component. The latter type is easily crushed when unsuspecting or careless workmen climbing over or under it in making repairs or inspections in attics and crawl spaces. Then the asbestos becomes friable---capable of becoming airborne.
Under California law collection of asbestos samples for testing and removal of the hazardous material must be done different companies, properly licensed. California Asbestos Consultants (CAC) are professionals licensed to collect samples. Asbestos Abatement Contractors are licensed to remove and dispose of asbestos. They should be approved by Cal-OSHA.
Protective breathing equipment is worn while asbestos is being removed. It is protected and labeled prior to disposal in a prescribed manner. After asbestos has been removed, the premises are tested to determine that the air quality is safe for reentry.
On the contrary, when asbestos is removed illegally (as in scraping acoustic ceilings), the interior air may become contaminated and become a health hazard. Cleaning the premises can be costly, requiring such techniques as "wet wiping" of every surface in the property!
To avoid this problem, it is important to test a sample of acoustic material before ceilings are scraped. Not all rough, acoustic-like ceiling material contains asbestos, but only by testing a small sample in a laboratory can you be sure.