What Is Asbestos?
Asbestos is the name given to naturally occurring fibrous silicate minerals. The types of asbestos include chrysotile (white asbestos), amosite (brown asbestos) and crocidolite (blue asbestos).
Asbestos may be combined with a material that binds its fibres together, producing asbestos-containing material (ACM).
What Are The Properties of Asbestos?
- Fibrous structure.
- Durable and resistant to wear.
- Heat, flame and corrosion-resistant.
- Good thermal and electrical insulator.
The properties of asbestos make it a very desirable material for many products.
What Are The Uses Of Asbestos?
Products with asbestos-containing material include:
- Roof sheeting materials;
- Vehicle brake and clutch linings;
- Heat insulation material; and
- Ceiling and ceramic tiles.
What Are The Health Effects Of Asbestos Exposure?
Asbestos may enter the body through inhalation or ingestion. Asbestos is an inhalation hazard and exposure to asbestos particles in the air may result in:
- Lung cancer,
- Asbestosis - a chronic, non-cancerous lung disease characterised by fibrosis or scarring of the lung or,
- Mesothelioma - a rare form of cancer of the inner lining of the chest wall or abdominal cavity.
The time period between asbestos exposure and the development of these diseases may be 10 - 15 years.
When Is Asbestos A Risk?
The greatest risks arise from asbestos when it is in the particle form and airborne.
Asbestos-containing materials are generally classified as friable or bonded. Friable asbestos can be reduced to dust by hand pressure. Bonded asbestos is too hard to be reduced to dust by hand pressure. Bonded asbestos may become friable by damaging the material, drilling, machine grinding, sanding, and buffing.
Friable asbestos and damaged bonded asbestos are sources of airborne asbestos fibres.
Asbestos Removal Guidelines
Exposure to asbestos fibres poses a health hazard which can be reduced by dust control and the use of devices to guard against inhalation of the fibres. To this end, the Government of Barbados has in place guidelines for contractors, workers, and other persons engaged in the removal and disposal of asbestos.
Pre-Removal Inspection Requirements
- A request in writing shall be made to the Environmental Protection Department (EPD) before any demolition or other operations involving the removal of asbestos. Asbestos removal contractors must be certified by the EPD.
- Notification in writing of the date and location of intended demolition or other operation shall be given to the EPD not less than fourteen (14) days before the operations commence.
- An inspection will be carried out by officers of the EPD prior to its removal.
- Written approval must be obtained from the EPD before proceeding with demolition or other operations involving the removal of asbestos.
The contractor or person responsible for the demolition or other operations involving the removal of asbestos shall ensure that all aspects of the operation are carried out in accordance with the guidelines.
Guidelines For The Removal Of Bonded Asbestos
When removing asbestos, the certified contractor must always ensure that:
- All workers are provided with personal protective clothing and personal protective equipment which includes overalls, respirators, gloves, footwear and hard hats in accordance with the Safety and Health at Work Act, 2005.
- The site is secured against trespassers during operations.
- Bonded asbestos is wet prior to and during operations.
- Breakage is kept to a minimum.
- Asbestos is carefully lowered (not thrown) onto the transport vehicle
- The material is kept wet during loading onto the transport vehicle.
- The asbestos material is covered with an impervious material which must be secured during transportation.
- The interior of the building from which asbestos has been removed is cleaned by the wet process after demolition e.g. wet mop, wet vacuum.
- All asbestos material is disposed of at the approved site and in a manner approved by the EPD.
Guidelines For The Removal Of Friable Asbestos
The contractor responsible for demolition or other operations involving the removal of friable asbestos shall ensure that:
- All workers are provided with personal protective clothing and equipment including full body (waterproof) suits, respirators, gloves, footwear and hard hats in accordance with the Safety and Health at Work Act, 2005.
- All workers involved in handling asbestos are free from respiratory problems including asthma, bronchitis, sinusitis and emphysema.
- A self-contained breathing apparatus should be used when operating in enclosed spaces.
- The active area should be secured to prevent access by third parties without the appropriate protective clothing.
- Signage should be erected to notify the public of the operation.
- The asbestos is wet throughout the removal process.
- The asbestos waste is collected by wet process and disposed of in a manner approved by the EPD.
- The asbestos waste is collected in impervious bags, sealed and clearly labelled with permanent 4” (inch) letters stating: “HAZARDOUS MATERIAL - ASBESTOS WASTE”.
Officers are authorized to stop any asbestos removal operation that does not comply with guidelines.
The asbestos disposal site is located at Rock Hall, St. Philip. The operating hours of the disposal site are:
Monday to Friday 7:00 am - 3:30 pm
Permission must be granted by the EPD prior to disposal.