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Hazardous Waste

What is a Hazardous Waste?

Hazardous waste is a waste with properties that make it dangerous or potentially harmful to human health or the environment. The universe of hazardous wastes is large and diverse. Hazardous wastes can be liquids, solids, contained gases, or sludges. They can be the by-products of manufacturing processes or simply discarded commercial products, like cleaning fluids or pesticides.

In regulatory terms, a RCRA hazardous waste is a waste that appears on one of the four hazardous wastes lists (F-list, K-list, P-list, or U-list), or exhibits at least one of four characteristics—ignitability, corrosivity, reactivity, or toxicity. Hazardous waste is regulated under the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act (RCRA) Subtitle C.
Listed Wastes

By definition, EPA determined that some specific wastes are hazardous. These wastes are incorporated into lists published by the Agency. These lists are organized into three categories:

The F-list (non-specific source wastes). This list identifies wastes from common manufacturing and industrial processes, such as solvents that have been used in cleaning or degreasing operations. Because the processes producing these wastes can occur in different sectors of industry, the F-listed wastes are known as wastes from non-specific sources. Wastes included on the F-list can be found in the regulations at 40 CFR §261.31.

The K-list (source-specific wastes). This list includes certain wastes from specific industries, such as petroleum refining or pesticide manufacturing. Certain sludges and wastewaters from treatment and production processes in these industries are examples of source-specific wastes. Wastes included on the K-list can be found in the regulations at 40 CFR §261.32.

The P-list and the U-list (discarded commercial chemical products). These lists include specific commercial chemical products in an unused form. Some pesticides and some pharmaceutical products become hazardous waste when discarded. Wastes included on the P- and U-lists can be found in the regulations at 40 CFR §261.33.

Characteristic Wastes

Waste that does not meet any of the listings explained above may still be considered a hazardous waste if exhibits one of the four characteristics defined in 40 CFR Part 261 Subpart C— ignitability (D001), corrosivity (D002), reactivity (D003), and toxicity (D004 - D043).

Ignitability – Ignitable wastes can create fires under certain conditions, are spontaneously combustible, or have a flash point less than 60 °C (140 °F). Examples include waste oils and used solvents. For more details, see 40 CFR §261.21.

Corrosivity – Corrosive wastes are acids or bases (pH less than or equal to 2, or greater than or equal to 12.5) that are capable of corroding metal containers, such as storage tanks, drums, and barrels. Battery acid is an example. For more details, see 40 CFR §261.22.

Reactivity – Reactive wastes are unstable under "normal" conditions. They can cause explosions, toxic fumes, gases, or vapors when heated, compressed, or mixed with water. Examples include lithium-sulfur batteries and explosives. For more details, see 40 CFR §261.23.

Toxicity – Toxic wastes are harmful or fatal when ingested or absorbed (e.g., containing mercury, lead, etc.). When toxic wastes are land disposed, contaminated liquid may leach from the waste and pollute ground water. For more details, see 40 CFR §261.24.


What is radiation?

Radiation is energy that travels in the form of waves or high speed particles.

When we hear the word ' radiation,' we generally think of nuclear power plants, nuclear weapons, or radiation treatments for cancer. We would also be correct to add 'microwaves, radar, electrical power lines, cellular phones, and sunshine' to the list. There are many different types of radiation that have a range of energy forming an electromagnetic spectrum. However, when you see the word 'radiation' on this web site, we are referring to the types of radiation used in nuclear power, nuclear weapons, and medicine.  These types of radiation have enough energy to break chemical bonds in molecules or remove tightly bound electrons from atoms, thus creating charged molecules or atoms (ions). These types of radiation are referred to as 'ionizing radiation.' 

Nonionizing Radiation

We take advantage of the properties of non-ionizing radiation for common tasks:
microwave radiation-- telecommunications and heating food 
infrared radiation --infrared lamps to keep food warm in restaurants
radio waves-- broadcasting
Non-ionizing radiation ranges from extremely low frequency radiation, shown on the far left through the audible, microwave, and visible portions of the spectrum into the ultraviolet range.

Extremely low-frequency radiation has very long wave lengths (on the order of a million meters or more) and frequencies in the range of 100 Hertz or cycles per second or less.  Radio frequencies have wave lengths of between 1 and 100 meters and frequencies in the range of 1 million to 100 million Hertz.  Microwaves that we use to heat food have wavelengths that are about 1 hundredth of a meter long and have frequencies of about 2.5 billion Hertz.

Ionizing Radiation

Higher frequency ultraviolet radiation begins to have enough energy to break chemical bonds. X-ray and gamma ray radiation, which are at the upper end of magnetic radiation have very high frequency --in the range of 100 billion billion Hertz--and very short wavelengths--1 million millionth of a meter. Radiation in this range has extremely high energy. It has enough energy to strip off electrons or, in the case of very high-energy radiation, break up the nucleus of atoms.

Ionization is the process in which a charged portion of a molecule (usually an electron) is given enough energy to break away from the atom. This process results in the formation of two charged particles or ions: the molecule with a net positive charge, and the free electron with a negative charge.

Each ionization releases approximately 33 electron volts (eV) of energy. Material surrounding the atom absorbs the energy. Compared to other types of radiation that may be absorbed, ionizing radiation deposits a large amount of energy into a small area. In fact, the 33 eV from one ionization is more than enough energy to disrupt the chemical bond between two carbon atoms. All ionizing radiation is capable, directly or indirectly, of removing electrons from most molecules.

There are three main kinds of ionizing radiation:

alpha particles, which include two protons and two neutrons;
beta particles, which are essentially electrons; and
gamma rays and x-rays, which are pure energy (photons).

How does radiation cause health effects?

Radioactive materials that decay spontaneously produce ionizing radiation, which has sufficient energy to strip away electrons from atoms (creating two charged ions) or to break some chemical bonds. Any living tissue in the human body can be damaged by ionizing radiation in a unique manner. The body attempts to repair the damage, but sometimes the damage is of a nature that cannot be repaired or it is too severe or widespread to be repaired. Also mistakes made in the natural repair process can lead to cancerous cells. The most common forms of ionizing radiation are alpha and beta particles, or gamma and X-rays.

Electromagnetic Fields (EMF)

What are electromagnetic fields?

Wherever electricity is generated, transmitted, or used, electric and magnetic fields (EMF) are created, due to the presence and motion of electric charges. Generally, these fields are time-varying vector quantities characterized by a number of parameters, including their frequency, phase, direction, and magnitude.

Typical residential exposures, not close to operating appliances or household wiring, are about 1 mG. A milligauss (mG) is the unit of magnetic field intensity.

Intensity is considered to be related to the potential for risk. Exposure intensity decreases as distance from power lines increases. If there is a risk, then increased distance from power lines would be expected to reduce risk.

Other factors may contribute to exposure intensity in a residence. A magnetic field exposure measurement is best way to assess the exposure situation. Many power companies provide this service.

In June , 2001, an expert scientific working group of the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC), a World Health Organization agency, concluded that ELF magnetic fields are possibly carcinogenic to humans, based on consistent statistical associations of high level residential magnetic fields with a doubling of risk of childhood leukemia. Analyses of data from a number of well-conducted studies show a fairly consistent statistical association between a doubling of risk of childhood leukemia and power-frequency (50 or 60 Hz) residential extremely-low frequency (ELF) magnetic field strengths above 0.4 microTesla (4 milligauss). No consistent evidence was found that childhood exposures to ELF electric or magnetic fields are associated with brain tumours or any other kinds of solid tumors. The epidemiological studies included in the IARC evaluation found that children who are exposed to residential (ELF) magnetic fields less than 0.3 to 0.4 microTesla (3 to 4 milligauss) have no increased risk for leukemia. No consistent evidence was found that residential or occupational exposures of adults to ELF magnetic fields increase risk for any kind of cancer.

In addition, an assessment of health effects from exposure to ELF electric and magnetic fields (EMFs) by an expert working group, organized by the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences (NIEHS)/National Institutes of Health, found that that EMFs are possible carcinogens for children exposed to EMFs at home (June 1998) based on epidemiological studies of residential exposure and childhood leukemia. The NIEHS working group also concluded that the results of in animal, cellular, and mechanistic studies do not confirm or refute the finding of the epidemiological studies.

Can the electric and magnetic fields (EMF) to which people are routinely exposed cause health effects? What are sources of EMFs, and when are EMFs dangerous?

EMF (or ElectroMagnetic Field) is a broad term which includes electric fields generated by charged particles in motion, and radiated fields such as TV, radio, hair dryer, and microwaves. Electric fields are measured in units of volts per meter or V/m. Magnetic fields are measured in milli-Gauss or mG. The field is always strongest near the source and diminishes as you move away from the source. These energies have the ability to influence particles at great distances. For example, the radiation from a radio tower influences the atoms within a distant radio antenna, allowing it to pick up the signal. Despite the many wonderful conveniences of electrical technology, the effects of EMF on biological tissue remains the most controversial aspect of the EMF issue, with virtually all scientists agreeing that more research is necessary to determine safe or dangerous levels.

Research since the mid-1970s has provided extensive information on biological responses to power-frequency electric and magnetic fields. The Electric and Magnetic Fields (EMF) Research and Public Information Dissemination (RAPID) Program was charged with the goal of determining if electric and magnetic fields associated with the generation, transmission, and use of electrical energy pose a risk to human health. The fact that 20 years of research have not answered that question is clear evidence that health effects of EMF are not obvious and that risk relationships, if risk is identified, are not simple. Because epidemiologic studies have raised concerns regarding the connection between certain serious human health effects and exposure to electric and magnetic fields, the program adopts the hypothesis that exposure to electric or magnetic fields under some conditions may lead to unacceptable risk to human health. The focus of the program is not only to test, as far as possible within the statutory time limits, that hypothesis for those serious health effects already identified, but to identify as far as possible the special conditions that lead to elevated risk and to recommend measures to manage risk.

Electromagnetic hypersensitivity (ES) is a physiological disorder characterized by symptoms directly brought on by exposure to electromagnetic fields. It produces neurological and allergic-type symptoms. Symptoms may include, but are not limited to, headache, eye irritation, dizziness, nausea, skin rash, facial swelling, weakness, fatigue, pain in joints and/or muscles, buzzing/ringing in ears, skin numbness, abdominal pressure and pain, breathing difficulty, and irregular heartbeat. Those affected persons may experience an abrupt onset of symptoms following exposure to a new EMF such as fields associated with a new computer or with new fluorescent lights, or a new home or work environment. Onset of ES has also reported following chemical exposure. A concerted effort to provide scientifically valid research on which to base decisions about EMF exposures is under way, and results are expected in the next several years. Meanwhile, some authorities recommend taking simple precautionary steps, such as the following:
Increase the distance between yourself and the EMF source – sit at arm’s length from your computer terminal.
Avoid unnecessary proximity to high EMF sources – don’t let children play directly under power lines or on top of power transformers for underground lines.
Reduce time spent in the field – turn off your computer monitor and other electrical appliances when you aren’t using them.
The Office of Technology Assessment of the Congress of the United States recommends a policy of “prudent avoidance” with respect to EMF. Prudent avoidance means to measure fields, determine the sources, and act to reduce exposure.
1.Detect EMFs in your home and work environment. It is good to know where the sources of EMF are in your everyday world and how strong these sources are. Is there wiring in the wall behind your bed that you don’t even know about? Is the vaporizer emitting strong fields in the baby’s room? How much EMF are you and your family getting from the power lines in the street? Even hair dryers emit EMFs. Home inspectors often have meters to measure EMFs, or they can be purchased and shared with friends.
2.Diminish your exposure to the EMFs you find. Determine how far you must stay away from the EMF emitters in your home and work environment to achieve less than 2.5 mG of exposure—the microwave oven, the alarm clock, the computer, and so on. Rearrange your furniture (especially the beds, desks, and couches where you spend the most time) away from heaters, wiring, fluorescent lights, electric doorbells, and other EMF “hot spots.” Where practical, replace electric appliances with non-electric devices. Where practical, replace electric appliances with non-electric devices. Have an electrician correct faulty high EMF wiring and help you eliminate dangerous stray ground currents. Consult a qualified EMF engineer if necessary. Contact National Electromagnetic Field Testing Association at 1-847-475-3696 for consultants in your area.
3.Shield yourself. Use shielding devices on your computer screen and cellular phone. Add shielding to your household wiring, circuit box, and transformers.
Magnetic fields are not blocked by most materials. Magnetic fields encountered in homes vary greatly. Magnetic fields rapidly become weaker with distance from the source.
Electric fields in the home, on average, range from 0 to 10 volts per meter. They can be hundreds, thousands, or even millions of times weaker than those encountered outdoors near power lines.
Electric fields directly beneath power lines may vary from a few volts per meter for some overhead distribution lines to several thousands of volts per meter for extra high voltage power lines.
Electric fields from power lines rapidly become weaker with distance and can be greatly reduced by walls and roofs of buildings.
The chart on the left summarizes data from a study by the Electric Power Research Institute (EPRI) in which spot measurements of magnetic fields were made in the center of rooms in 992 homes throughout the United States. Half of the houses studied had magnetic field measurements of 0.6 mG or less, when the average of measurements from all the rooms in the house was calculated (the all-room mean magnetic field). The all-room mean magnetic field for all houses studied was 0.9 mG. The measurements were made away from electrical appliances and reflect primarily the fields from household wiring and outside power lines.
If you are comparing the information in this chart with measurements in your own home, keep in mind that this chart shows averages of measurements taken throughout the homes, not the single highest measurement found in the home.
Magnetic fields close to electrical appliances are often much stronger than those from other sources, including magnetic fields directly under power lines. Appliance fields decrease in strength with distance more quickly than do power line fields.


Pesticides are designed to (in most cases) kill pests. Many pesticides can also pose risks to people. However, in many cases the amount of pesticide people are likely to be exposed to is too small to pose a risk. To determine risk, one must consider both the toxicity or hazard of the pesticide and the likelihood of exposure. A low level of exposure to a very toxic pesticide may be no more dangerous than a high level of exposure to a relatively low toxicity pesticide, for example.

What are the potential health effects of pesticides?

The health effects of pesticides depend on the type of pesticide. Some, such as the organophosphates and carbamates, affect the nervous system. Others may irritate the skin or eyes. Some pesticides may be carcinogens. Others may affect the hormone or endocrine system in the body.

Information Source: U.S. Environmental Protection Agency


Do not dust, sweep, or vacuum debris that may contain asbestos. These steps will disturb tiny asbestos fibers and may release them into the air. Remove dust by wet mopping or with a special HEPA vacuum cleaner used by trained asbestos contractors.

What Is Asbestos?

Asbestos is a mineral fiber. It can be positively identified only with a special type of microscope. There are several types of asbestos fibers. In the past, asbestos was added to a variety of products to strengthen them and to provide heat insulation and fire resistance. 

How Can Asbestos Affect My Health?

From studies of people who were exposed to asbestos in factories and shipyards, we know that breathing high levels of asbestos fibers can lead to an increased risk of: 
lung cancer:
-- mesothelioma, a cancer of the lining of the chest and the abdominal cavity 
-- asbestosis, in which the lungs become scarred with fibrous tissue.

The risk of lung cancer and mesothelioma increases with the number of fibers inhaled. The risk of lung cancer from inhaling asbestos fibers is also greater if you smoke. People who get asbestosis have usually been exposed to high levels of asbestos for a long time. The symptoms of these diseases do not usually appear until about 20 to 30 years after the first exposure to asbestos. 
Most people exposed to small amounts of asbestos, as we all are in our daily lives, do not develop these health problems. However, if disturbed, asbestos material may release asbestos fibers, which can be inhaled into the lungs. The fibers can remain there for a long time, increasing the risk of disease. Asbestos material that would crumble easily if handled, or that has been sawed, scraped, or sanded into a powder, is more likely to create a health hazard. 
Where Can I Find Asbestos And When Can It Be A Problem?
Most products made today do not contain asbestos. Those few products made which still contain asbestos that could be inhaled are required to be labeled as such. However, until the 1970s, many types of building products and insulation materials used in homes contained asbestos. Common products that might have contained asbestos in the past, and conditions which may release fibers, include: 

Steam pipes, boilers and furnace ducts insulated with an asbestos blanket or asbestos paper tape. These materials may release asbestos fibers if damaged, repaired, or removed improperly.
Resilient floor tiles (vinyl asbestos, asphalt, and rubber), the backing on vinyl sheet flooring, and adhesives used for installing floor tile. Sanding tiles can release fibers. So may scraping or sanding the backing of sheet flooring during removal.
Cement sheet, millboard, and paper used as insulation around furnaces and woodburning stoves. Repairing or removing appliances may release asbestos fibers. So may cutting, tearing, sanding, drilling, or sawing insulation.
Door gaskets in furnaces, wood stoves, and coal stoves. Worn seals can release asbestos fibers during use.
Soundproofing or decorative material sprayed on walls and ceilings. Loose, crumbly, or water-damaged material may release fibers. So will sanding, drilling, or scraping the material.
Patching and joint compounds for walls and ceilings, and textured paints. Sanding, scraping, or drilling these surfaces may release asbestos.
Asbestos cement roofing, shingles, and siding. These products are not likely to release asbestos fibers unless sawed, dilled, or cut.
Artificial ashes and embers sold for use in gas-fired fireplaces. Also, other older household products such as fireproof gloves, stove-top pads, ironing board covers, and certain hairdryers.
Automobile brake pads and linings, clutch facing, and gaskets.
Where Asbestos Hazards May Be Found In The Home
Some roofing and siding shingles are made of asbestos cement.
Houses built between 1930 and 1950 may have asbestos as insulation.
Asbestos may be present in textured paint and in patching compounds used on wall and ceiling joints. Their use was banned in 1977.
Artificial ashes and embers sold for use in gas-fired fireplaces may contain asbestos.
Older products such as stove-top pads may have some asbestos compounds.
Walls and floors around woodburning stoves may be protected with asbestos paper, millboard, or cement sheets.
Asbestos is found in some vinyl floor tiles and the backing on vinyl sheet flooring and adhesives.
Hot water and steam pipes in older houses may be coated with an asbestos material or covered with an asbestos blanket or tape.
Oil and coal furnaces and door gaskets may have asbestos insulation.

What Should Be Done About Asbestos In The Home?

If you think asbestos may be in your home, don't panic, usually the best thing is to leave asbestos material that is in good condition alone. Generally, material in good condition will not release asbestos fibers. There is no danger unless fibers are released and inhaled into the lungs. Check material regularly if you suspect it may contain asbestos. Don't touch it, but look for signs of wear or damage such as tears, abrasions, or water damage. Damaged material may release asbestos fibers. This is particularly true if you often disturb it by hitting, rubbing, or handling it, or if it is exposed to extreme vibration or air flow. Sometimes, the best way to deal with slightly damaged material is to limit access to the area and not touch or disturb it. Discard damaged or worn asbestos gloves, stove-top pads, or ironing board covers. Check with local health, environmental, or other appropriate officials to find out proper handling and disposal procedures. If asbestos material is more than slightly damaged, or if you are going to make changes in your home that might disturb it, repair or removal by a professional is needed. Before you have your house remodeled, find out whether asbestos materials are present.

How To Identify Materials That Contain Asbestos

You can't tell whether a material contains asbestos simply by looking at it, unless it is labeled. If in doubt, treat the material as if it contains asbestos or have it sampled and analyzed by a qualified professional. A professional should take samples for analysis, since a professional knows what to look for, and because there may be an increased health risk if fibers are released. In fact, if done incorrectly, sampling can be more hazardous than leaving the material alone. Taking samples yourself is not recommended. If you nevertheless choose to take the samples yourself, take care not to release asbestos fibers into the air or onto yourself. Material that is in good condition and will not be disturbed (by remodeling, for example) should be left alone. Only material that is damaged or will be disturbed should be sampled. Anyone who samples asbestos-containing materials should have as much information as possible on the handling of asbestos before sampling, and at a minimum, should observe the following procedures: 
Make sure no one else is in the room when sampling is done.
Wear disposable gloves or wash hands after sampling.
Shut down any heating or cooling systems to minimize the spread of any released fibers.
Do not disturb the material any more than is needed to take a small sample.
Place a plastic sheet on the floor below the area to be sampled.
Wet the material using a fine mist of water containing a few drops of detergent before taking the sample. The water/detergent mist will reduce the release of asbestos fibers.
Carefully cut a piece from the entire depth of the material using, for example, a small knife, corer, or other sharp object. Place the small piece into a clean container (for example, a 35 mm film canister, small glass or plastic vial, or high quality resealable plastic bag).
Tightly seal the container after the sample is in it. 
Carefully dispose of the plastic sheet. Use a damp paper towel to clean up any material on the outside of the container or around the area sampled. Dispose of asbestos materials according to state and local procedures.
Label the container with an identification number and clearly state when and where the sample was taken.
Patch the sampled area with the smallest possible piece of duct tape to prevent fiber release.
Send the sample to an asbestos analysis laboratory accredited by the National Voluntary Laboratory Accreditation Program (NVLAP) at the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST). Your state or local health department may also be able to help. 

How To Manage An Asbestos Problem
If the asbestos material is in good shape and will not be disturbed, do nothing! If it is a problem, there are two types of corrections: repair and removal. Repair usually involves either sealing or covering asbestos material. Sealing (encapsulation) involves treating the material with a sealant that either binds the asbestos fibers together or coats the material so fibers are not released. Pipe, furnace, and boiler insulation can sometimes be repaired this way. This should be done only by a professional trained to handle asbestos safely. Covering (enclosure) involves placing something over or around the material that contains asbestos to prevent release of fibers. Exposed insulated piping may be covered with a protective wrap or jacket. With any type of repair the asbestos remains in place. Repair is usually cheaper than removal, but it may make later removal of asbestos, if necessary, more difficult and costly. Repairs can either be major or minor. Major repairs must be done only by a professional trained in methods for safely handling asbestos. Minor repairs should also be done by professionals since there is always a risk of exposure to fibers when asbestos is disturbed.


Doing minor repairs yourself is not recommended since improper handling of asbestos materials can create a hazard where none existed. If you nevertheless choose to do minor repairs, you should have as much information as possible on the handling of asbestos before doing anything. Contact your state or local health department or regional EPA office for information about asbestos training programs in your area. Your local school district may also have information about asbestos professionals and training programs for school buildings. Even if you have completed a training program, do not try anything more than minor repairs. Before undertaking minor repairs, carefully examine the area around the damage to make sure it is stable. As a general matter, any damaged area which is bigger than the size of your hand is not a minor repair.
Before undertaking minor repairs, be sure to follow all the precautions described earlier for sampling asbestos material. Always wet the asbestos material using a fine mist of water containing a few drops of detergent. Commercial products designed to fill holes and seal damaged areas are available. Small areas of material such as pipe insulation can be covered by wrapping a special fabric, such as rewettable glass cloth, around it. These products are available from stores (listed in the telephone directory under Safety Equipment and Clothing") which specialize in asbestos materials and safety items. 
Removal is usually the most expensive method and, unless required by state or local regulations, should be the last option considered in most situations. This is because removal poses the greatest risk of fiber release. However, removal may be required when remodeling or making major changes to your home that will disturb asbestos material. Also, removal may be called for if asbestos material is damaged extensively and cannot be otherwise repaired. Removal is complex and must be done only by a contractor with special training. Improper removal may actually increase the health risks to you and your family.

Asbestos Professionals: Who Are They And What Can They Do?

Asbestos professionals are trained in handling asbestos material. The type of professional will depend on the type of product and what needs to be done to correct the problem. You may hire a general asbestos contractor or, in some cases, a professional trained to handle specific products containing asbestos. 

Asbestos professionals can conduct home inspections, take samples of suspected material, assess its condition, and advise about what corrections are needed and who is qualified to make these corrections. Once again, material in good condition need not be sampled unless it is likely to be disturbed. Professional correction or abatement contractors repair or remove asbestos materials. 

Some firms offer combinations of testing, assessment, and correction. A professional hired to assess the need for corrective action should not be connected with an asbestos-correction firm. It is better to use two different firms so there is no conflict of interest. Services vary from one area to another around the country. 

The federal government has training courses for asbestos professionals around the country. Some state and local governments also have or require training or certification courses. Ask asbestos professionals to document their completion of federal or state-approved training. Each person performing work in your home should provide proof of training and licensing in asbestos work, such as completion of EPA-approved training. State and local health departments or EPA regional offices may have listings of licensed professionals in your area. 
If you have a problem that requires the services of asbestos professionals, check their credentials carefully. Hire professionals who are trained, experienced, reputable, and accredited - especially if accreditation is required by state or local laws. Before hiring a professional, ask for references from previous clients. Find out if they were satisfied. Ask whether the professional has handled similar situations. Get cost estimates from several professionals, as the charges for these services can vary. 
Though private homes are usually not covered by the asbestos regulations that apply to schools and public buildings, professionals should still use procedures described during federal or state-approved training. Homeowners should be alert to the chance of misleading claims by asbestos consultants and contractors. There have been reports of firms incorrectly claiming that asbestos materials in homes must be replaced. In other cases, firms have encouraged unnecessary removals or performed them improperly. Unnecessary removals are a waste of money. Improper removals may actually increase the health risks to you and your family. To guard against this, know what services are available and what procedures and precautions are needed to do the job properly. 
In addition to general asbestos contractors, you may select a roofing, flooring, or plumbing contractor trained to handle asbestos when it is necessary to remove and replace roofing, flooring, siding, or asbestos-cement pipe that is part of a water system. Normally, roofing and flooring contractors are exempt from state and local licensing requirements because they do not perform any other asbestos-correction work. Call 1-800-USA-ROOF for names of qualified roofing contractors in your area. (Illinois residents call 708-318-6722.) For information on asbestos in floors, read "Recommended Work Procedures for Resilient Floor Covers." You can write for a copy from the Resilient Floor Covering Institute, 966 Hungerford Drive, Suite 12-B, Rockville, MD 20850. Enclose a stamped, business-size, self-addressed envelope. 
Asbestos-containing automobile brake pads and linings, clutch facings, and gaskets should be repaired and replaced only by a professional using special protective equipment. Many of these products are now available without asbestos. For more information, read "Guidance for Preventing Asbestos Disease Among Auto Mechanics," available from regional EPA offices. 

If You Hire A Professional Asbestos Inspector

Make sure that the inspection will include a complete visual examination and the careful collection and lab analysis of samples. If asbestos is present, the inspector should provide a written evaluation describing its location and extent of damage, and give recommendations for correction or prevention.
Make sure an inspecting firm makes frequent site visits if it is hired to assure that a contractor follows proper procedures and requirements. The inspector may recommend and perform checks after the correction to assure the area has been properly cleaned.
If You Hire A Corrective-Action Contractor
Check with your local air pollution control board, the local agency responsible for worker safety, and the Better Business Bureau. Ask if the firm has had any safety violations. Find out if there are legal actions filed against it.
Insist that the contractor use the proper equipment to do the job. The workers must wear approved respirators, gloves, and other protective clothing.
Before work begins, get a written contract specifying the work plan, cleanup, and the applicable federal, state, and local regulations which the contractor must follow (such as notification requirements and asbestos disposal procedures). Contact your state and local health departments, EPA's regional office, and the Occupational Safety and Health Administration's regional office to find out what the regulations are. Be sure the contractor follows local asbestos removal and disposal laws. At the end of the job, get written assurance from the contractor that all procedures have been followed.
Assure that the contractor avoids spreading or tracking asbestos dust into other areas of your home. They should seal the work area from the rest of the house using plastic sheeting and duct tape, and also turn off the heating and air conditioning system. For some repairs, such as pipe insulation removal, plastic glove bags may be adequate. They must be sealed with tape and properly disposed of when the job is complete.
Make sure the work site is clearly marked as a hazard area. Do not allow household members and pets into the area until work is completed.
Insist that the contractor apply a wetting agent to the asbestos material with a hand sprayer that creates a fine mist before removal. Wet fibers do not float in the air as easily as dry fibers and will be easier to clean up.
Make sure the contractor does not break removed material into small pieces. This could release asbestos fibers into the air. Pipe insulation was usually installed in preformed blocks and should be removed in complete pieces.
Upon completion, assure that the contractor cleans the area well with wet mops, wet rags, sponges, or HEPA (high efficiency particulate air) vacuum cleaners. A regular vacuum cleaner must never be used. Wetting helps reduce the chance of spreading asbestos fibers in the air. All asbestos materials and disposable equipment and clothing used in the job must be placed in sealed, leakproof, and labeled plastic bags. The work site should be visually free of dust and debris. Air monitoring (to make sure there is no increase of asbestos fibers in the air) may be necessary to assure that the contractor's job is done properly. This should be done by someone not connected with the contractor. 

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Flooding is the most common natural disaster in the United States
Most homeowners insurance does not cover flood damage.
Floods and flash floods happen in all 50 states.
Just an inch of water can cause costly damage to both the home and the property.
Roughly 25% of all flood claims paid by the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP) are for policies in low-to-moderate-risk areas.
If a home is in a Special Flood Hazard Area (SFHA), it has a 26% chance of being damaged by a flood during the course of a 30-year mortgage— compared to a 9% chance of fire.
New land development can increase flood risk, especially if the construction changes natural runoff paths.
Federal disaster assistance after a flood is usually a loan that must be paid back with interest.

What is a flood?

Floods: Nature's Most Common Disaster

Every year, flooding impacts thousands of property owners across the United States. Most of them don't expect it because their property "isn't in a flood zone."
The truth is: Everyone lives in a flood zone.
Just because a property has a low risk of flooding doesn't mean there's no risk.
Flooding can happen anywhere at anytime, whether it's a flash flood from heavy rains in the desert, an overflowing river, or simply water with nowhere to go because of urban construction.
One in four insurance claims for flood damage comes from low-to-moderate risk flood zones.
Properties in high-risk flood zones have a 26% chance of flood damage over the period of a 30-year mortgage.

Flooding has many causes.
Properties don't have to be near bodies of water to be at risk for flooding. Besides overflowing lakes and rivers, causes of flooding include:
Heavy rainfall
Melting snow
Coastal storm surge
Tidal activity
Put simply, a flood is an excess of water (or mud) in an area that's normally dry.

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How does the federal government designate flood zones? How Flood Zones Are Mapped?

Over the past several decades, the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) has compiled the results of extensive flood studies into more than 100,000 Flood Insurance Rate Maps. Covering all U.S. communities, these maps project the level of flood risk for any given area and assign a flood zone designation as well as insurance premium rates.
The highest risk areas are called Special Flood Hazard Areas (SFHAs). These areas are part of the so-called "100-year-floodplain"—but that doesn't mean they flood every 100 years. It means that an area has a one percent or greater annual chance of flooding. In fact, some geographic areas have had multiple "100-year" floods several years in a row.

What is the impact of FEMA's remapping? How a Property's Flood Risk Can Change?

Many of the nation's Flood Insurance Rate Maps have become outdated due to urban development, changes in natural landscapes, and other factors. While some maps have been updated at various times, many are 10, 15, even 20 years old.
In 2005 FEMA began the Map Modernization Initiative, a massive, multi-year project of re-examining the nation's flood zones and issuing new maps. The new maps will be based on more accurate, current data and employ the latest mapping technology.
New Flood Insurance Rate Maps have already been issued for many communities, and additional maps will be completed throughout the course of the project.
FEMA estimates that in 2007, 26% of the U.S. population will live in communities slated to receive new flood maps, and another 19% in 2008.
All this map revision activity means there's an increasing chance that the flood zone status of a home may have changed since the previous owner purchased it, or may change in the near future.

What You Need to Know About Flood Insurance?

Historically, most private insurers have been unwilling to write flood insurance policies because of the risk. As a result, most homeowners looked to the government to assist them in the event of a flood.
In 1968, Congress created the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP) to make flood insurance coverage available to U.S. property owners. Funds to pay NFIP claims come from premium dollars collected, not from tax dollars.
Having a basic understanding of how flood insurance works can help you show your customers the value of a FLOOD ANALYSIS.

Here are some key points:
Flood damage is generally not covered by a homeowner's insurance policy, but many policyholders aren't aware of that fact. The best way to protect a property from a flooding disaster is to obtain a separate NFIP flood insurance policy. These policies are sold and serviced on behalf of the NFIP by many different insurance companies and agents.

Many homeowners think federal disaster assistance will help them after a flood, but that's usually not the case. Federal aid is typically in the form of a loan that must be paid back with interest. Those loans become available only if the flood warrants a disaster declaration by the President, which typically occurs in less than 10% of natural events.
The "Mandatory Purchase Requirement" for Flood Insurance.
When a homebuyer obtains a mortgage from a federally-backed lender, the lender is required by law to determine if the property lies within a high-risk flood zone according to the Flood Insurance Rate Map for the area. If so, the lender must ensure that the buyer purchases and maintains flood insurance on the property. This is known as the "mandatory purchase requirement." In rare cases, a lender may require flood insurance even if the property is outside of a designated high-risk zone.

How Homeowners Can Save Money on Flood Insurance.
The "Grandfathering" Rule
When FEMA map revisions for a given community take effect, homeowners could find that while their home was outside a high-risk flood zone before, it's now inside. For these individuals, FEMA provides a regulatory practice called "grandfathering."
Under specific circumstances, the "grandfathering" rule enables a flood insurance policyholder to obtain a lower premium rate-one based on the home's previous, lower-risk zone rather than the new, higher-risk zone. This rule only applies if flood insurance coverage is in place before the effective date of the new map, so it's wise for all homeowners to purchase flood insurance now rather than after the local map has been revised.
You may want to advise your customers to check with their insurance agents, or contact America's Innovative Insurance Solutions, Inc. at (800) 862-2070 to see if grandfathering might apply to the home they're purchasing.
The Preferred Risk Policy
For properties in low-to-moderate risk flood zones, the NFIP offers a lower-cost policy called a Preferred Risk policy. For example, $100,000 in property coverage and another $40,000 for contents coverage can cost a homeowner as little as $250 per year.
Regardless of a property's flood zone and whether flood insurance is required, buying flood insurance coverage is always a good investment for peace of mind.

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Environmental protection Agency Publications in     .pdf format

Flood Cleanup: Avoiding Indoor Air Quality Problems
Flood Clean Up and the Air in Your Home

Federal Emergency Management Agency Publications in    .pdf format

Flood Preperation and Safety
Your Home Insurence Dosn't Cover Floods
Nothing Could Dampen the Joy of Home Ownership ...
Six Ways to Protect Your House From Flooding
Environmental Hazards