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Decontamination of asbestos materials
An asbestos materials decontamination procedure must be carried out each time a person leaves an asbestos area or when the removal work is completed. This procedure should take place for the following:
- The area where the asbestos materials are located
- All the tools used for asbestos materials decontamination
- Anyone involved in asbestos work or present on the premises.
Asbestos materials decontamination areas
Asbestos is a fairly dangerous material to breathe, which is why it is generally important to avoid moving it so as not to release its spores suspended in the air. Because this is not always possible, especially during renovations or asbestos removal, you will need to ensure that certain procedures are established and rigorously followed.
As part of the asbestos decontamination process, you must create specific “dirty” and “clean” areas to ensure that fibers, dust and asbestos residue are not transported out of the affected area.
1. Dirty asbestos materials decontamination area
Closest to the asbestos removal area for vacuuming and wiping contaminated surfaces and clothing, storing contaminated shoes, disposing of personal protective equipment in labeled bags and showering.
2. Clean asbestos materials decontamination area
For the storage of clean respiratory protection equipment.
3. A clean change area
It is important that the decontamination areas are physically separated to minimize cross-contamination.
In addition, it is also important that the air flow through these areas always goes to the asbestos removal area and that all of the contaminated water is collected and disposed of with the asbestos waste. Use caution when moving the labeled and sealed bags containing contaminated clothing and wipes from the dirty area through the clean areas.
All asbestos waste, including labeled or sealed bags, must be disposed of in an appropriate and responsible manner to avoid any other asbestos-related problems.
Types of decontamination of asbestos materials
You should never attempt to decontaminate asbestos materials on your own, since asbestos treatment is a tedious project that requires the expertise of a professional. So if you have any doubts about the presence of asbestos materials in your home, it is strongly recommended to contact an expert in order to obtain an adequate identification and to proceed with the removal.
Decontamination can be done in two ways:
1. Wet decontamination
Wet decontamination (or “wet wiping”) involves using disposable cloths to wipe contaminated surfaces and objects. If a bucket of water is used, the rags should not be rewetted in the bucket as this will contaminate the water, making it asbestos waste. All rags must then be disposed of with waste contaminated with asbestos.
2. Dry decontamination
Dry decontamination consists of rolling / folding the contaminated leaves and making sure they are well sealed. It could also involve the use of a specialized vacuum cleaner for asbestos. This method should only be used if wet decontamination poses a risk from electricity.
Only qualified experts have the knowledge and skills to properly decontaminate asbestos using either of these methods.
Whether you have hired a team of experts to do the necessary work or have decided to collaborate with an asbestos removal professional, it is essential to follow the appropriate self-decontamination procedures. Following the asbestos removal done by the pros, you will need to perform the following steps:
Keep your respirator and PPE until all work is completed and the area is completely cleaned.
Before removing any personal protective equipment or your shoes, clean them thoroughly with an asbestos vacuum. Safety shoes should also be wiped with a damp cloth, which should then be discarded with the asbestos waste.
Personal protective equipment and shoes should not be removed until dust or visible asbestos residues have been removed. PPE must be carefully removed and disposed of properly with other asbestos waste.
Before removing a respirator, wash thoroughly and pay special attention to hands, nails and head. Remove the respirator last and wash the face thoroughly.
Decontamination of tools used for decontamination of asbestos materials
When all asbestos removal work is complete, the tools must be decontaminated by dismantling them (if applicable) and wiping them with a damp cloth to remove all traces of visible dust and asbestos residues, or by cleaning them with a vacuum cleaner for asbestos.
Sometimes it can be easier to get rid of the tools completely as asbestos waste rather than decontaminating them. If you must remove tools from the asbestos area for decontamination or move them to another asbestos area, be sure to place them in a double bag and label them appropriately.
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