Asbestos, The 411

In the Know

Asbestos became popular between 1900-1970. The large draw of asbestos was in sound absorption, strength, and its resistance to fire and heat. Asbestos manufacturing has been phased out, banned, or overly restricted since the 1990s.

Common Locations

Homes dating back before 1980 were built with products which may contain asbestos. These products include floor tile, ceiling tiles, roof shingles and flashing, exterior siding, and insulation (around boilers, pipes, and duct work).

In farm buildings it is in joint compound and caulking. With any remodel it may be best to test for asbestos.

Health Effects

The length of exposure to asbestos is the most concerning factor. When inhaled, asbestos’s glass like fibers scratch the interior of your lungs causing scarring and stiffening. One or two exposures yield no worry, but it is exposure from 10-40 years that leads to lung cancer and mesothelioma.

Testing and Abatement

Most general contractors will not get involved for liability reasons if asbestos is a potential threat. When you need testing and removal of asbestos, it may require more than 1 contractor. It is a must to see all records and documentations of the asbestos levels in your house.

Check to be sure any professional you hire meets any licensing requirements for your state or municipality.

Asbestos abatement (removal) has an extensive set up procedure. The first step in the removal is fully sealing off the room with multiple layers of plastic. Then workers have to walk through a wash off station upon entering and exiting the sealed area. Respirators are required. All materials are wetted down to control dust and particle movement.

Cost of abatement can vary depending on the scope of the work.

Questions? Contact Ronnie at Williams Engineering to ask your asbestos questions!

~ Jordan Crusing, Junior Technician

On-Farm Innovation

I love the innovation of farmers!  We all know that farmers are hard workers, but the ingenuity and invention to solve any problem is really amazing to see in person.  If you ever been to the machine shed on the farm, you’ll see that every bit and piece has value and purpose.  A good farmer lets nothing go to waste and every task they do is calculated and efficient – there is a lot to do on the farm every day and being a great farm manager is essential. It’s easy to picture innovation in the machine shed with the repairs made to keep equipment running.

portion of what use to be my grandparent’s dairy farm, machine shed in top left corner

On the other side of the coin though, is the business side where the farmer is just as innovative.  Becoming dealers for seeds (or other products), pooling resources together with neighbors to ensure that everyone has access to equipment or services at a fair price, or even working to create a new market for their product when needed. 

I even appreciate seeing opportunities, like the “Making More From Milk” event and new on-farm technologies, that provide support and encouragement to farmers who are developing and maintaining healthy agricultural businesses, which also preserve the ability to continue in the tradition of on-farm innovation.

~ Kelly Jacobs, Senior Environmental Scientist