There are three types of companies that provide asbestos identification: hazardous materials firms, asbestos removal firms, and chemical hazardous materials consulting firms. Asbestos is a naturally occurring mineral used in a wide range of building materials from the early 1800s to the late 1980s. It has excellent fire retardant properties, as well as above-average insulation properties.
Although it was well known in industrial and medical circles for many years, it wasn't until the 1970s when the official link between asbestos and several deadly lung diseases was made. Repeated exposure to the dust particles have a direct link to these fatal diseases. The small particles attach to the surface of the lungs, causing changes in the cells, reducing the ability to absorb oxygen from the air. Over time, the number of particles increases, choking off breathing and reducing lung function.
A hazardous materials firm specializes in asbestos identification and management. Asbestos is installed in a wide range of buildings and is often built into carpet tiles, ceiling tiles, and around venting equipment due to its fire retardant properties. It is harmless unless it is disturbed or if it begins to decay. When completing any type of renovation in a building built before the 1980s, it is worthwhile to use the services of an asbestos identification firm.
When looking for this type of service, contact your local health department to verify the asbestos license for the asbestos identification firms. These firms are required to obtain and maintain asbestos licenses, as the material must be disposed of in a clean, safe manner. Talk with the health inspector to determine what procedures are required to ensure compliance with the laws surrounding the identification and disposal of this material.
There are specialty firms that focus in the safe disposal of asbestos materials, providing both identification and disposal services. In many cases, the firm will divide the two tasks into separate projects. Asbestos materials that have not been disturbed are not a risk and simply need to be properly identified. This is typically a combination of steps, such as the application of asbestos warning stickers and updating floor plans and emergency services diagrams to indicate where the asbestos is located.
Firms that specialize in chemical hazardous material transportation and identification also provide specialized service for other hazardous materials, such as asbestos. The link between hazardous materials and asbestos is well recognized, and many of the protocols and licensing requirements are quite similar. Talk with the staff from this type of firm to determine if they are able to meet your needs.