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Safely disposing of asbestos waste

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Asbestos can pose a threat to your health.
Asbestos, which is used in everything from furnace ducts to floor tiles, can break down into fibers that are 1,200 times smaller than a human hair and cause health problems when inhaled. Because of this, safe and proper disposal is essential to ensure that friable (solid material that has been broken down) asbestos does not pose a health hazard. If you're in the middle of a do-it-yourself project at home and suspect that you have materials containing asbestos, you can consult a professional or learn how to handle it yourself. Have a question? Get an answer from a Medical Professional now!


    • 1
      Identify the materials. Asbestos shows up primarily in materials manufactured before 1986. The best time to determine if asbestos is present is before you start working. If you already have debris to be disposed of and you think it may contain asbestos, have a professional gather and test it in an Environmental Protection Agency-approved laboratory. Trying to break down products yourself may release fibers into the air. It may be necessary to apply a sealant that attaches to the fibers so they can't be dispersed or to wrap the materials before they are removed.
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      Buy the right protective gear. Start by getting a high-efficiency particulate air respirator (HEPA, dual cartridge), and look for filters that are coded purple. Regular painter's masks or respirators won't be enough to keep out fibers. Next, you'll need several pairs of disposable coveralls and asbestos gloves. Every time a worker leaves the work area he or she must remove the old work wear (except the HEPA), dispose of it in a resealable asbestos bag and change into new work wear. You can find detailed guidelines for work wear at the Occupational Safety and Health Administration website (see Resources below).
    • 3
      Put materials in the proper containers. Depending on the amount of asbestos, you can use plastic bags (at least two) with resealing fasteners that are then sealed again by duct tape or 55-gallon drums designed for safe storage of asbestos. It's important that asbestos be packaged for disposal wet to reduce the amount of friable fibers that become airborne. All containers have to be labeled with the homeowner's or building owner's name and address.
    • 4
      Contact the landfill. The safest way to dispose of asbestos is by burying it, so make sure there is a landfill available before you start working. Once you have completed the job, notify the landfill no less than 24 hours before you plan to drop off the materials. If your materials weigh in over the state-regulated limit, you have to fill out a Waste Shipment Record (WSR) and submit it to the landfill. Once they have determined the actual amount matches the WSR, they can take your materials. A copy of the form should be returned to you within 35 days of the delivery.

Read more: How to Dispose of Asbestos Waste | eHow
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