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Finding Asbestos during a Demolition

Every day, structures across America are torn down to make room for new and improved buildings. Schools, shopping malls, and business parks are receiving much-needed upgrades, but some are running into unexpected problems, like asbestos.


The Clean Air Act specifies work practices for dealing with asbestos during demolitions and renovations, which are regulated by the National Emission Standards for Hazardous Air Pollutants (NESHAP). These regulations require three things:

  • The building, installation, or structure owners and operators must notify the appropriate state agency for any demolition of a building that could contain a certain threshold amount of asbestos or asbestos-containing material
  • Particular manufacturing and fabricating operations either cannot emit visible emissions into the outside air or must follow air cleaning procedures,
  • Particular manufacturing and fabricating operations must follow certain requirements when removing asbestos-containing waste.

The regulations mentioned above require a thorough inspection of where the demolition will occur. Unfortunately, asbestos is not always caught before demolitions take place, such as recently in St. Paul, Minnesota. The total cost for the demolition of two properties in the downtown area is up to $17 million after “unanticipated” asbestos was discovered at the site. The Pioneer Press article reporting on the demolition does not mention whether an inspection took place before the demolition began.

Given that asbestos is commonly found within older structures, it is wise to do inspections before demolition begins. This will help eliminate any unforeseen costs, as well as prevent unnecessary exposure amongst workers and people nearby.

Source: Pioneer Press | EPA

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