The average cost to remove asbestos in my neighborhood is between $270 and $540 per hour. The contractors will spend their expensive time setting up a containment area, removing the asbestos pipes or insulation material, and paying for proper specialized disposal. Professional inspections also need be conducted before and after the remediation to show there is no more particulate matter floating around. Inspections and analysis can run another $600 to $1000. Costs can easily reach $3000 or $4000 for asbestos removal in a home.
Asbestos in a solid state is not particularly harmful. But over time, or when disturbed, it can release airborne particles which are known to cause cancer. What happens in many cases is that asbestos is found or believed to exist in a house or other location where funds simply aren't available for professional removal. In many states, unauthorized removal of asbestos materials is against the law punishable by fines or prison. It's clearly not something we condone or support.
There are, however, safety precautions that can be taken by people inspecting their homes for asbestos that are certainly within our purview. Asbestos removal teams are often called the "guys in moon suits" because of the specialized equipment they wear. The disposable asbestos resistant clothing, lung protection, gloves, and eye safety gear is not terribly expensive. But there are some things to keep in mind if you are purchasing asbestos inspection or removal clothing.
The "guys in moon suits" are generally wearing DuPont Tyvek suits. These are lightweight, semi-breathable, disposable suits that offer protection from particles down to 1 micron. Asbestos particles are much bigger than 1 micron and won't get through a properly fitted suit. The model 1414 Tyvek Coveralls have a hood, booties, and elastic closures for full-body protection.
The weak point in the Tyvek suits is always the crotch area. If you're performing real work where you need to bend, twist, and lift, it's a good idea to buy a suit that is at least one size larger than you normally wear. We sell a very popular asbestos removal kit that features all of the products we're listing here.
Gloves don't have to be expensive, but they should have good grip characteristics. We recommend something simple like the MCR Safety Flex Tuff 9688. Another option are Neoprene/Latex gloves which also provide good protection. These MCR gloves have a comfortable cotton flock lining.
One tip with the gloves is to tape the gloves to the Tyvek suit. In our experience, reaching or stretching while wearing the suit tends to expose skin to potentially harmful particles. Taping the seams keeps those exposures from happening.
Lung protection and eye protection are probably the most critical components of the asbestos removal or inspection kit. Asbestos is very nasty stuff and you want to keep it out of the lungs at all cost. Full-face asbestos respirator masks take care of both lungs and eyes while providing a wide viewing area, but they tend to be more expensive than buying pieces separately. An inexpensive half-face mask like the 3M half-face mask with HEPA filter features P100 filters that can block any asbestos particles. But the mask isn't terribly comfortable over a long period. If you're going to get rid of the mask at the end of the job, the 6000 series mask is probably a good way to go. But if you're planning on cleaning and re-using your respirator, we prefer the 3M 7500 series masks because they are made of soft, comfortable, hypo-allergenic silicon. The HEPA filter needs to be added separately.
Eye protection is best made with glasses or goggles that wrap around the head and offer sealed protection. Chemical splash goggles offer good protection, though they can get hot and don't provide any anti-fog properties. Pyramex makes the Capstone Anti-Fog Safety Goggles which we consider a big step up for only a few more dollars.
These are the professional-grade products you need if you're dealing with asbestos in your home or business. But remember simply because the large items are gone, airborne particles can remain. It takes a high degree of planning and coordination to remove asbestos safely. Contact PK Safety with questions or for help ordering the correct products for your specific job.