Study Evaluates Asbestos Removal Technology

On May 15, EPA announced the release of a draft report that evaluates an alternative demolition process for buildings containing asbestos. Scientists and engineers from EPA's National Risk Management Research Laboratory and the Dallas regional office compared the current process of demolishing a dilapidated, asbestos-containing structure with a new method called the Alternative Asbestos Control Method (AACM).

The first demonstration project was successfully completed in Fort Chaffee, Ark. Preliminary findings show AACM procedures to be protective for the cleanup of many asbestos-containing buildings.

Two similar buildings containing similar types and quantities of asbestos were demolished in April 2006. One demolition used the alternative method, and one employed the standard National Emissions Standards for Hazardous Air Pollutants (NESHAP) method. As the buildings were demolished, environmental emissions were monitored to determine if the alternative protected the environment as well as the NESHAP method.

The current NESHAP process involves removal of some asbestos materials prior to demolition of a structure. This process can be time-consuming and expensive. After demolition, the removed asbestos and the demolished structure are both disposed of in approved landfills.

Similarly, the alternative method removes some friable (capable of becoming airborne) asbestos materials, but some asbestos-containing materials are allowed to remain. The structure is then wetted with amended water to control asbestos fiber release prior to and during demolition. Demolition debris and several inches of affected soil from the AACM process are disposed of as asbestos-containing debris at an approved landfill.

Data from the evaluation demonstrated lower than expected levels of asbestos and reduced potential for worker exposure. The cost and time savings for the first study also were found to be significant.

A select panel of experts has released the draft report for public comment and for peer review. The public is invited to review the draft report at Comments are due by June 11.

This article originally appeared in the 05/01/2007 issue of Environmental Protection.

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