Asbestos Contamination

Ben Teague & Associates building inspectors and air monitoring specialists provide environmental consulting services including but not limited to asbestos bulk sampling and air monitoring for clients with building contamination issues. Our reports are comprehensive and informative so the client has all the information necessary to make decisions or take action. Our inspector have experience working on large jobs where litigation expertise is required.

Asbestos contamination and exposure lawsuits are a rapidly growing part of the construction litigation industry. If you watch television you can't miss the commercials placed by attorneys who are aggressively searching out people suffering from mesothelioma, asbestosis, or other ailments caused by asbestos exposure.

In the summer of 2009, a realtor who owned several ski rental properties decided to renovate one of his units. It was in a four-story condominium where common hallways and elevators join the units. Instead of paying a professional contractor $50,000 to do a professional and compliant job, the realtor decided to save $10,000 and do it himself. The realtor hired hourly workers to demo the interior.

The workers removed all the interior components, that is, all interior trim, doors, floor coverings, kitchen and bath cabinets, sinks, toilets, etc. There was nothing left but sheetrock, as illustrated in this picture taken from the living area facing the kitchen. A complete interior renovation to update of the unit was under way.

Contaminated Condo Renovation

The realtor, deciding that he did not like the look of the pop-corn ceiling texture, then directed the workers to scrape it off the ceiling to prepare for an all new and modern look to the unit. After the workers finished scraping off the popcorn texture, they carried open buckets of the debris down the common hallway, into the common elevator, through another common hallway, and out to the common dumpster, where they discarded it.

Another unit owner saw what was going on and realized this material was likely to contain asbestos. After this neighbor questioned the do-it-yourself contractor about whether he had completed the necessary asbestos inspections, the do-it-yourselfer hired a consultant to determine whether there was a problem.

To make a long story short(er), all the popcorn material tested positive. It contained 15 percent chrysotile asbestos. The do-it-yourself contractor, in an attempt to save $10,000 in contractor fees, had just contaminated about 20,000 square feet of common area with asbestos, and also the two other units adjacent to his.

Asbestos Contaminated Common Hallway

The hallway shown here looks clean, does it not? This hallway, used by construction workers, other unit owners, maintenance personnel, renters, and visitors, in fact had asbestos-in-air readings that far exceeded the Glossary Link OSHA and Glossary Link EPA limits. People traveling through these hallways after the removal of popcorn ceiling material were exposed to dangerously high levels of airborne asbestos fibers.

The do-it-yourselfer paid out-of-pocket expenses exceeding $60,000 just to decontaminate the building. The decontamination included the unit under construction, all contents including tools and boxed cabinets, other contaminated units and their contents, and all common areas of the building.

This demonstrates the necessity of competent, qualified contractors. One of the contractors who bid this job said that his $50,000 price tag would have included the cost to abate the asbestos containing material.

Other units at this same complex were later renovated, jobs that included proper removal of the popcorn texture. The cost to remove the material properly (the asbestos Glossary Link abatement) was around $7,000. That beats a $60,000 cleanup and decontamination of the entire building.


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