How can I do it myself

My father Johnny O. Perea died on April 6, 2001 from Asbestos related cancer of the lung (mesothelioma). It was a slow painful death. I'm not just going to stand by and allow this to continue....

With all of the nations flooding and water damage issues, it is important to know that you can take safety precautions to avoid exposure to the damaged materials that contain asbestos.

Basic Rules
• Worker Protection: During removal, you will need to protect yourself from breathing or spreading asbestos fibers by wearing an appropriate respirator, disposable coveralls, disposable gloves, and rubber boots.
• Wetting: Wetting is critical to asbestos fiber control. Before, during and after removal, asbestos materials should be thoroughly saturated with water in order to keep asbestos fibers out of the air. Once removed, asbestos debris should be kept wet until packaged and sealed for disposal. Please check with your local abatement firms for Asbestos wast bags.  
• Containment: You will need to contain your asbestos debris by constructing a plastic containment around the ceiling areas you wish to remove. This is accomplished by covering walls and floors within the project room or rooms to ensure all debris is captured and remains on plastic sheeting during removal.

Personnel and supplies Workers;

It is recommended that three workers perform the job. Two should perform the work and a third should be "standing by" outside the work area to provide water, tools and other supplies as needed while work is in progress. This will minimize the need for removal workers to remove disposable clothing and put on new for each exit and entrance to the work area.

Protective equipment and clothing;

Before beginning your project, you will need to obtain the following items:
• Respirators: Half-face, dual cartridge respirators, each equipped with a pair of HEPA filters (color coded purple). Request from the vendor a fit test to ensure a proper fit and instruction on performing a check of the respirator seal prior to each use. Respirators provide little protection if they do not fit properly. Respirators must be worn continually by each person within the containment.
Note: Persons with beards cannot be adequately fitted with this type of respirator and should not work within the containment.
• Coveralls: Several pairs of disposable coveralls with built-in booties should be purchased. Over-sized coveralls make it easier to move around. One pair will be needed for each entry into the containment area. Every time a worker leaves the containment area during a removal project, coveralls should be disposed of in a properly sealed asbestos waste bag. This will help ensure all asbestos debris remains on plastic.
• Rubber Boots: Lace-less, pull-on rubber boots without fasteners will protect coverall booties so they do not wear through. Rubber boots can be washed off later or disposed of as contaminated debris.
• Eye protection: Each worker within the containment area should wear non-fogging goggles.
• Rubber gloves: Several pairs of durable, disposable rubber gloves should be purchased. Rubber gloves should be worn by each person in the containment area. Every time a worker leaves the containment area, these gloves should be disposed of in an asbestos disposal bag. A new pair of gloves should be worn with each re-entry into the containment area.
Tools and Supplies
• Tank sprayer (2-3 gallons): This will be your means of wetting spray-on ceiling materials.
• Liquid dish washing detergent: Mixed at one cup per five gallons of water for best wetting results.
• Wallboard taping or "putty" knives and a dust pan: The best sizes of knives for scraping have four to eight-inch blades. The dust pan is for catching the spray-on material as it is removed and placing it in the asbestos waste bag.
• Step ladder: A six foot or taller aluminum or fiberglass ladder should be used when hanging the containment and during removal. Chairs and shorter ladders are not recommended. Remember that you will be wearing goggles, coveralls and rubber boots which limit vision and mobility.
• Polyethylene plastic sheeting (poly): This will be used to create containment areas. You will need enough 2 or 3 mil sheeting to cover 1.5 times the area of the walls and enough 6 mil sheeting to cover 3 times the area of the floors.
• Asbestos waste disposal bags: These bags will be used for containing asbestos contaminated debris and materials. The bags should be sized 33 inches by 50 inches and made of 6 mil polyethylene. Each should be preprinted with required asbestos warnings. Assume you will need at least four bags per 100 square feet of ceiling to be removed.
• Duct tape: Numerous rolls will be used in building the containment area and in sealing waste bags.
• Clean, disposable rags: A large supply should be on hand for assorted removal and clean-up purposes.
• Encapsulates: These could be latex primer paint or an approved latex asbestos sealing product. They will be used for sealing areas after the spray-on material has been removed.
Note: Asbestos-specific equipment and materials may be purchased from safety equipment vendors listed under "Safety Equipment and Clothing" in the Yellow Pages.

Prep work for removal of spray applied textured ceiling is the example:

First things first
1. Post signs warning "drop-in" friends, family and other visitors of the work taking place.
2. Remove all furniture from the room(s) where the spray-on removal is to take place.
3. Turn off heating/air conditioning systems and seal the vents with poly and duct tape. If the vents are mounted on the ceiling, wait until the containment is constructed to remove the vent covers.
4. Turn off all electrical power to ceiling fixtures in the project area at the breaker box. Even though the light switch is turned off, there are often live wires at the light fixture.
5. If lighting is required to conduct the project, it should be wired to a circuit outside the removal area and protected with a Ground Fault Circuit Interrupt (GFCI) outlet.
Build a containment area.
1. Throughout the area of the house where the spray-on ceiling is to be removed, cover the floors with 6 mil poly. Place the sheets so that they overlap room edges by about a foot. Run the extra foot of sheeting up the wall and tape the edges there securely. Make sure there is plenty of excess poly - do not pull tight - so that the poly will not pull away from the walls when you are working near the edge of the room. Tightly seal all seams between sheets of poly with duct tape. If spray-on removal is going to take place in areas that are joined by halls or spaces where no removal is to take place, lay a layer of 6 mil poly sheeting on the floor to create a path on which to walk between containment areas.

A great link for information on task specific stuff from the UK:

WOW! THAT'S A LOT OF WORK YOU SAY? That is how it is done right. There is no shortcut. There is on going medical research to find ways to treat and detect asbestosis and mesothelioma but, so far the treatment options are not good. The GOOD NEWS now that you know not to disturb the materials that contain asbestos you will not be exposed and therefore you will not get sick and die 10 to 50 years down the road. More importantly your kids wont continue to be exposed. They are counting on us to make sure they have a future without the hazards that we just left behind!!!
Help me get it done and be a part of the fix. 30 years from now we can all look back and say we really did cause a drastic reduction in the number of deaths from asbestos exposure. I think our kids will thank us.

If you have any questions please call the New Mexico Air Quality Bureau Asbestos Hotline at 1-800-224-7009, or send email to

Charles R. Perea