Prior to 1978, when its production was banned, asbestos was used in things such as popcorn ceilings, duct work, and other small spaces. Asbestos fibers have been found to be hazardous to people’s health, especially workers who must drill holes in walls when installing cables or piping.
Because of the hazard posed by the asbestos fibers, occupants of a building or structure in which there is asbestos to be removed may need to be evacuated. Also, the part of the building where the asbestos is present is typically sealed off to prevent contamination of the other areas. It may also be necessary to seal the structure off from the outside to avoid contamination of the outside air. Additionally, only a special vacuum cleaner that’s specifically designed for asbestos abatement can be safely used. A regular vacuum would only expel asbestos fibers into the air in the room.
A building that is set for demolition but contains asbestos may have to be sealed so the asbestos can be safely removed prior to knocking the building down.
Recently, there have been advances made in the field of asbestos abatement. One newer method of removal was done at the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory’s B238 building. A track-mounted wet cutting saw with a diamond blade was used to cut the building into smaller sections. The sections were then double-wrapped in plastic for safe transportation and taken to a landfill.
Removal is not the only way to perform asbestos abatement either. It can also be “enclosed” or “encapsulated” to prevent exposure to the asbestos fibers.