Dos and Don'ts During Asbestos Removal and Handling

Lawrence Kim

Due to the toxicity associated with ingestion or inhalation of asbestos fibres, one should observe caution when moving or handling it. Asbestos removal is a common activity during building renovations and demolition work. Such work predisposes the workers involved to the dangers of inhaling its dust and asbestos fibres entering cuts.

Dos during asbestos removal and handling

  1.  Wear protecting equipment covering the nose, eyes, mouth, and limbs – Asbestos dust contains microfibers that could cause cancerous growth if ingested, inhaled or absorbed through cuts during accidents. Covering these points of entry using protective clothing and equipment minimises these risks associated with asbestos removal and handling.
  2. Spray water or polyvinyl acetate (PVA) to reduce asbestos dust –Since the majority of the asbestos-related poisoning incidents involve its dust, sprinkling or spraying water or PVA prevents it from forming or rising to the face level where workers could inhale it.
  3. Use non-powered tools – Power tools generate dangerous asbestos dust, which has the asbestos microfibers responsible for its toxic effects. One should only use hand-powered tools during asbestos removal to lower the risks of inhaling asbestos dust.
  4. Dispose asbestos responsibly –Most cities have designated landfills where toxic solids such as asbestos should be dumped. After asbestos removal, it should be carefully covered using thick plastic sheets clearly labelled 'asbestos' and buried in these landfills.

Don'ts during asbestos removal and handling

  1. Don't use abrasive tools and equipment on asbestos –The abrasive action causes asbestos dust, especially during asbestos removal from old buildings. These tools include disc grinders, saws, asbestos cement and files that could produce dangerous dust.
  2. Don't walk on asbestos – Whether removing or handling asbestos, one should never walk on it due to the risk of particles entering cuts and bruises. Additionally, asbestos becomes brittle with time, making walking on asbestos roofs very dangerous.
  3. Don't leave asbestos exposed –Due to the risk of asbestos contaminating water storage and the environment, one should discard it in a safe manner at the designated dumping sites.
  4. Don't use protective clothing used in asbestos removal elsewhere –Since asbestos removal results in asbestos dust that clings to clothes and protective equipment, using these items in other areas spreads the dust, therefore putting people without protective equipment at risk of inhaling its microfibers. Rubber gloves and any other rubber-based protective gear used during asbestos removal remain unusable for any other work.

For asbestos removal services, contact a professional business, like McMahon Services.