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  1. The risk of being exposed to asbestos isn’t just real for those whose jobs focus on asbestos abatement, it’s also real for a number of other professions. In fact, the National Institute for Occupational Health and Safety has reported that over the past century, workers from more than 75 different trades have been actively exposed to unsafe levels of asbestos. Though the use of this dangerous substance has been considerably limited (even banned) since 1990, there are still those today whose symptoms from past exposures only recently came to light. Mesothelioma, asbestosis, pulmonary fibrosis, lung cancer - these are just some of the known diseases directly caused by asbestos exposure. Today, these trades below tend to be presented with a higher than average risk for exposure to asbestos, more than other lines of work: Construction workers Asbestos training is especially necessary for those working in the construction industry, as the substance can be found in a huge number of products and materials, as well as locations, that these workers encounter on a daily basis. The problem lies in the fact that a majority of construction workers simply don’t have the advanced training and knowledge necessary in order to properly address asbestos exposure and related concerns. Electricians In the scope of their job, electricians often have to work through old asbestos-containing materials and parts just to ensure that their clients have safe electrical systems that are in compliance with safety regulations. This causes them to often (and mostly unknowingly) get severely exposed to and affected by asbestos fibers, though it may not show until a few years to a couple of decades later. HVAC repair technicians Modern heating and ventilation systems and components are already largely asbestos-free, however, HVAC repair personnel at times still have to work in old and tight spaces, which are most likely sources of asbestos. When disturbed, a highly toxic level of asbestos fibers could be released, putting the technician at risk for developing asbestos-related diseases that would only become apparent 20 to 50 years after. Firefighters There are often instances when asbestos-packed buildings literally fall down all around our fire-fighting heroes. Because of the heat from the fire, asbestos fibers may be rapidly released into the air, where they can be inhaled by the firefighters working in the area. While firefighters do wear the appropriate protective gear when working to put out fires, they don’t always wear respirators. Teachers This may come as a surprise, however, it makes perfect sense when you factor in the number of aging school buildings all across the United States. Many school buildings being utilized today were built around the time when the use of asbestos was prevalent, putting teachers at risk of exposure to asbestos fibers even in the simple act of using normal facilities within the school. Aside from these trades, there are quite a number of others that puts its workers at a higher than normal risk for asbestos exposure. Often, this can be attributed to the lack of training regarding proper handling of these types of substances. Business owners are recommended to pair up with a reputable safety training organization that can provide necessary training on asbestos safety, as well as HAZWOPER training for those whose workers are involved in hazardous waste cleanup and containment. Visit for more details on safety training.
  2. Asbestos being very harmful to health and potentially causing fatal illnesses is already a well-established fact, but what a lot of people don’t realize is that its effects extend even to the environment. When asbestos fibers are released into the air, they can be inhaled into the lungs of both humans and animals. It’s why asbestos handling should only be done by trained professionals. Here are 3 reasons why we should not attempt to dispose of asbestos ourselves: Personal Health and Safety Unless you are an asbestos expert, or have received training on how to deal with this harmful substance, then you would most likely not have the proper resources or know-how to handle an asbestos risk situation correctly. While asbestos, in general, does not pose any immediate threat to one’s health when left alone, it can be easily breathed in once disturbed. Asbestos fibers are so tiny, they can only be viewed with a special microscope. Once these micro fibers find their way into your respiratory system, they could lodge into the tissues of your lungs, and cause you to develop mesothelioma or asbestosis, which can both be fatal. Protect your health and stay safe - leave the asbestos to the professionals. Protection of Those Around You Once asbestos fibers are released into the air, it puts not only yourself, but also those around you in danger. To avoid causing unnecessary problems to the people around you, avoid dealing with asbestos problems yourself. Instead, leave it to trained personnel to deal with. If the asbestos risk occurs at home, call in a professional. You wouldn’t want to place your family or neighbors in a compromising position, now, would you? Environmental Protection Asbestos fibers travel though air, and they are not absorbed into the soil when landing on soil surface. This means that they can just as easily be introduced back into the air, where they can be inhaled by humans and animals, putting populations at risk. When animal populations become threatened, it puts a burden on our ecological balance. By making sure that asbestos is handled properly and correctly disposed, it is not only human health that is being kept safe, but also the environment and the other flora and fauna that thrive in it. Avoid putting yourself and the environment at risk by getting a professional to do the removal and disposal for you. Ensure that you get a professional who knows what he is doing and is legitimately trained to deal with asbestos. Having hazwoper certification by training centers like The Asbestos Institute may mean that your hired professional has had experience dealing with hazardous waste as well, which is a definite plus.
  3. Asbestos was very popular between the '40s and the '80s for its resistance to fires, insulating capability, as well as its durability. Homes that were constructed after 1990 are unlikely to have any products containing asbestos, but if your home was built before that year, then it is highly likely that most products used in its construction did contain this harmful substance. While the presence of asbestos in the home does not necessarily pose a risk to health and safety, it is nonetheless important to know how to manage if it does become a problem over time. Here are some ways in which to manage asbestos problems in the home. 1. Check the condition of the asbestos-containing material. When suspecting an asbestos problem in the home, the first thing that should be done is to do an ocular inspection. Check the condition of the material that contains the harmful substance, and see if it’s still in intact. If it looks to be in good shape and have little possibility of being disturbed, then there’s no need to do anything – at all. Moving or attempting to repair any asbestos material that is otherwise in good condition can only disturb the asbestos in it. 2. Repair or Remove If you’ve determined that there is a problem, then it can either be repaired or removed. A repair can either mean covering or sealing the asbestos material. Covering involves positioning something around or over the material in order to prevent it from releasing asbestos fibers, while sealing or encapsulation usually involves the use of a sealant to treat and coat the material so that fibers cannot be released. Doing a repair is a quick and cheaper way of managing an asbestos problem, albeit temporarily. On the other hand, removing the asbestos material can be costly, but it does have the advantage over a repair as this totally eliminates it from the home for good. Whether you opt to repair or remove the asbestos material, both cases should be handled by a professional with asbestos safety training and certifications. 3. When in doubt, always call a professional. It may be difficult to determine whether there is an asbestos problem in the home, or if it is even an asbestos-containing material to begin with. In such cases, avoid trying to manage the situation yourself – call a professional. As an added precaution, never sweep, dust, or vacuum any debris that may contain asbestos as this would disturb and release tiny asbestos fibers into the air. Once inhaled, these could lodge onto the surfaces of the lungs, and cause serious diseases – most notably cancer. Don’t risk it - call in a professional to do the disposing.
  4. New Build Green Homes

    UK housing is some the least energy efficient in Europe and to meet carbon emission targets, carbon emission from UK households need to be reduced by a least 80%, if not more. Additionally, the housing market is picking up because of the ‘help to buy’ scheme. Meaning more individuals are able to afford to purchase a home and many are choosing new builds. One of the advantages of purchasing a newly built home is they tend to be greener and this means significantly lower energy bills, which also helps to make them more affordable for buyers. New builds mean you can buy more confidently. There is less need for property lawyers due to speculation of asbestos, or something else which could affect the living conditions of your home, and your rights as a homebuyer. Gordon Dean, solicitors based in Norfolk specialise in such claims, click here to find out more. Current New Build Green Options The housing industry has taken note of this need for environmentally friendly housing and even some of the housing being currently built is relatively green. For instance Abel homes, who specialise in building new homes in Norfolk, have a range of green homes options, many of which come as standard features of their new builds. Solar PV which allows home owners to take advantage of the government incentive (the feed-in-tariffs) and create their own electricity. The insulation is well over the level required by law, the walls have “super” insulation and there is triple glazing, features which all help the home to retain heat and thus aid energy efficiency making the home cheaper to heat and keep warm. The central heating systems are all Band A - the most energy efficient type. Zero-Carbon Homes of the Near Future This kind of new build is definitely a step in the right direction for the UK housing stock, however the government has recognised that to meet its steep targets of reduced carbon emissions that every new home built from 2016 needs to be zero-carbon, i.e. it offsets or produces the amount of carbon it uses in a year. There have been various projects looking into the best way to realistically achieve such a goal. I will detail the key feature of one particular zero-carbon home case study, to give an idea of what creating a zero carbon home involves. The Greenwatt Way Case Study: This project was created by Scottish and Southern Energy, they created 10 homes and monitored how the energy efficiency held up when individuals live their daily lives in the housing. The zero carbon target is met through various means; the materials the homes are built with are fabrics that help to limit heat loss in the home. These materials help to increase the heat recovery efficiency of a home to 92% - much higher than in most homes. The overall need for heat and lighting in these homes was reduced by innovative design and fabric performance. However, that alone does not create a zero-carbon home, the way tenants use the home has to be energy and water efficient. Thus all the appliances in the house are energy efficient and there is smart metering and smart appliances to aid with energy monitoring and use. The homes also feature a grey water recycling system, where used bath and shower water is recycled and used to flush toilets and recover wasted heat. All the houses make use of a central rainwater collection system, where the water is stored and can be used to flush toilets and provide water for car washing and irrigation. The final component in creating homes which are carbon neutral is utilising renewable energy; low carbon heating and hot water are supplied to all the homes from a renewable energy centre. This centre takes the best of domestic renewable technology and combines them to provide the energy and heating these homes need. The energy centre includes solar thermal panels, an air source heat pump, a ground source heat pump and a biomass boiler. This is just one example of how to create a zero-carbon housing, hopefully in the future all new builds will be carbon neutral which will benefit both the home owner (saving on bills) and the environment.
  5. How the EMP Helps You Save

    Environmental Management Plans are important for protecting construction investments and avoiding lawsuits. These plans review important information such as government guidelines, local building codes, how the construction will impact traffic and the surrounding environment, noise pollution concerns and much more. Without a proper plan in place, the construction project could be bogged down by regulatory fines and even lawsuits. Lawsuits Over Environmental Changes Something that developers must consider is how the project will affect storm water run-off throughout the area. In a case in New England, a developer was sued after claims that his project was allowing storm run-off to go into surrounding areas. The company had built a retention pond to catch the runoff, but an inspection found that the pond was not functioning properly. The EMP seeks to prevent lawsuits by looking closely at the area to determine how best to avoid environmental changes along neighboring properties. In addition to taking the initial steps, they may also put emergency plans into place for dealing with rain volumes that are higher than normal or other contingencies. Avoiding Delays In another case, environmental groups have temporarily shut down construction of a project that is designed to provide renewable energy and reduce the amount of rubbish going to landfills. The groups argue that it’s essentially an incinerator that will destroy air quality. With an EMP in place, the developer could show the courts research and solid data to support their claims. Without this information in place ahead of time, projects can fall victim to special interest groups that don’t want to see them move forward. Keeping Costs Down Fines for failing to follow regulations can destroy the profit margin on any project. In Boise, Idaho, a construction company is facing heavy fines for asbestos violations. According to government regulations, cement pipe containing asbestos is only safe as long as it is full intact. If the pipe breaks, it must be contained to prevent the fibers from becoming airborne. In this case, a construction company failed to properly follow the protocol when broken cement pipes were not properly disposed of. The EPA claims that it spent $3.9 million on the cleanup, and the construction company responsible is now facing a fine of $100,000 plus three years of probation. An EMP may have suggested different protocol for monitoring and overseeing the cleanup. Governments have the power to levy fines for all manner of environmental and building violations, so it’s important to keep costs down by learning as much as possible about regulations and ensuring that they’re followed.There are numerous companies offering EMP services, it would be wise for all contractors and builders to ensure to look at some examplesbefore placing an order. As a contractor, it’s wise to look for a company that offers plans that are easy to read so that potential investors can confirm the information before making a decision. The right EMP should also be customizable to allow for the changes that frequently occur with any project. With the right support in place, it’s easier for contractors and developers to remain in full compliance with the law