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Asbestos removal not always necessary

Updated May 16, 2011

Asbestos is a common material found in stucco, drywall, acoustic finishes, floor coverings, roofing, vents and ducts. When exposed or airborne, asbestos is dangerous and has been known to cause cancer. But when it is left undisturbed, the material is safe to have in your home.

During home projects, your contractor may tell you that he or she needs to remove asbestos, a complicated job that will add hundreds of dollars to your bill. In many cases, you can ask your contractor to find a way to complete the project without disturbing the material that contains asbestos, such as coating over old layers of stucco or drywall, laying your new floor over the old one and working around old vents and ducts.

By law, the contractor only has to remove asbestos if it will become airborne or "friable." If you decide to remove any asbestos from your residence, you must hire a contractor that is licensed for asbestos removal. The contractor must notify and complete an application with the South Coast Air Quality Management District (SCAQMD) prior to the removal of asbestos. The phone number for the SCAQMD is (909) 396-2000. Building permits will be required depending on the location of the asbestos to be removed.

For more details, call the Building and Safety Division at (562) 916-1209.

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