Asbestos Risk Assessment

Things You May Not Know Regarding Asbestos Risk Assessment

Many people mistakenly believe that an asbestos risk assessment is conducted to find out if there is any asbestos present in a building so that it can be removed. This is not the case. If you are in the process of purchasing a home, leasing or demolishing a commercial building, or taking classes that require knowledge regarding asbestos risk assessment, you should read further to gain a clearer grasp of the reasons behind the assessment and what they mean to you.

What is Asbestos?

Asbestos is a mineral fiber that is used as fireproof insulating material. It was also a common element in many products, and frequently in concrete and plumbing materials, but because of the health risks involved in this material it is now a massive health concern for many people.

What Does an Asbestos Risk Assessment Look For?

As stated above, an assessment is not simply to find out whether or not a particular building has asbestos. While that is certainly a large part of an assessment, they also look for signs of damage to any asbestos-infused materials. Additionally, any suspected asbestos-material can also be sampled and analyzed to see if it is indeed hazardous. When all information is gathered and analyzed, following steps for removal or encapsulation can then be discussed and decided upon.

Why Are Risk Assessments Important?

In buildings with asbestos, the risk for exposure that can lead to potentially fatal conditions can be severe. While some asbestos may largely remain in good shape, some may slowly be degrading or at risk for breaking up into airborne particles. These particles can wreak havoc on human lungs and cause a multitude of health problems, many leading to death.

Older buildings that are being considered for demolition most definitely require these assessments, since many of them contain asbestos insulation, tiles with asbestos coated lining, and plumbing that is also laden with asbestos. If no asbestos is present, demolition can take place, but often there is cause for concern and certain measures must be taken to ensure public and worker safety.

Types of Assessments

The most basic form of asbestos risk assessment is simply a visual location and assessment. These consist largely of going through a property and visually looking for any materials that contain asbestos (ACMs). When ACMs are found, an assessment is run on them to determine their current condition. This is a common pre-emptive assessment that is conducted before demolition and major reconstruction or remodeling projects. If everything is on the up and up, then the assessment can end there. If it is deemed likely that asbestos is present, however, more thorough assessment and analysis is conducted.


When the basic assessment is completed, it may be necessary for a more thorough assessment to be conducted that includes sampling. Sampling assessments check materials in the building that were thought to possibly contain asbestos. These samples are taken and then analyzed offsite for asbestos presence. If presence is indeed discovered, then it is assumed that other similar materials in the building also contain asbestos. From this point, decisions need to be made in order to plan steps to handle the problem by removal or containment.

When it is determined that a house requires asbestos removal because of an impending demolition, a thorough, full access sampling and assessment is conducted. All ACMs in the entirety of the building are listed and suspected ones are analyzed as well. Portions of the building may be cut into, removed, or destroyed in order to gain access to hard to reach areas that likely contain asbestos.