Is this a competent asbestos removal job? Is our basement now a biohazard?

My worry is that an asbestos removal job we had done in our basement 3 months ago has stirred up asbestos and made the situation worse than if we had left it alone. I’d like to do some work in the basement, but am worried that I’m dangerously exposing myself to asbestos everytime I walk down there. The asbestos was in white powdery sheets, about 1/4 or 1/8 inch think, covering and glued to the heating vents, and then painted over.

One quick question first: the method that they used to take it off involved first soaking the asbestos sheets with water. I read a book on asbestos removal (G. Willis, “Asbestos in the Urban Environment,” 1984) that warned about using this method in domestic environment, since the water can fall to the ground carrying asbestos fibers with it. Once the water evaporates, the asbestos fibres are lying on the ground, ready to be kicked up into the air. There was no big piles of water left on the ground when they were done (just a few splashes), leading me to believe that they had something to catch the water once they used it. Should I ask them about this? Is the water soaking method the one usually used in domestic environments?

I have two larger issues about the asbestos removal that concern me. I have attached photos as examples of what I’m worried about.

  1. As the asbestos was glued to the heating ducts, they said they were unable to clean it off entirely. Would this usually be considered an adequate removal job? I’m not really happy with it. Note the dangling bits and the white patches left on. I can easily take pieces off with my fingers, and the entire thing could probably come off with a paint scraper (but I don’t intend to do this). I think that the adhesive has loosened in the last three months.

  2. The asbestos was discovered when we had someone come in to remove mould from our basement. The same people were licensed to remove the asbestos and we gave them the go ahead to do that too. The problem is that they only removed what they exposed while removing the specific things that were mouldy. I now want to pretty much gut the basement. For instance, in picture 2, the asbestos is on the higher rectangular vent, painted maroon (The maroon on the circular vent is just paint). They stopped removing the asbestos when they hit the wall to the left of the vent, and now I want to take out this wall. Is it safe for me to do this? There are many such gaps where the vent goes from having asbestos on it to having it removed. By common sense, this seems to be a lot more hazardous, since the asbestos was in generally good condition at the beginning.

What we’ll probably do, which seems to be a much simpler solution that the sort of removal they’ve already done, is to have all the duct work in the basement taken out, asbestos and all, and have new ducts installed. Is this recommended? In the meantime, is it safe for me to be going in the basement and spending long periods of time demolishing the basement: a, away from the asbestos trouble spots; and b, near the asbestos trouble spots?

problem 2 - removal job starts and stops.JPG

problem 2 - removal job starts and stops.JPG

problem 1 - asbestos stuck to adhesive.JPG

Hi David,

Asbestos removal is a very regulated business, iin view of the potential dangers I would contact the regulatory authority in your City, county or state.

Were the contractors licensed for this type of work?




I would take Gerry’s advice, and I would act fast.

Thanks Gerry and mkriacou.

They were licensed to do the job, and did seem to take all the necessary precautions while doing the removal. I’m in touch with people in the provincial government about inspecting it, and will call back the removers to see what they have to say.

I would have thought that in places where asbestos is inaccessible it has to be covered over. This is not the case here. For example, where an asbestos-insulated duct runs alongside a joist, they have removed from the exposed underside of the duct, but left the asbestos on the joist side of the duct there, thus leaving at the corner a rough edge, where the asbestos removal starts and stops.


IMO it sounds like these guys didn’t know what they were doing. You should have been advised of exactly what they were doing.

If that was my house…I would have removed my family from the house, demo the entire basement,and remove all ducts and replace.

That is obviously a sub-standard removal job. However, the use of water was proper, as long as they had a containment with a poly floor and connected the water and duct paper waste.

FYI - I own an environmental consulting company, am a California Certified Asbestos Consultant (since the program started in 1992), have inspected thousands of buildings of all types (highrises, schools, military bases, factories, warehouses, retail facilities, houses, apartments, offices, R&D facilities, and so forth), and have planned, monitored, and documented abatement work in many of those structures. I also have extensive experience with mold surveys and mold abatement work.