Asbestos be gone!
I had heard of "asbestos" and I knew it was definitely not a good thing, but I really didn't understand what it was. Asbestos is a mineral fiber that because of its strength and heat resistance has been used in a variety of building construction materials such as roofing shingles, ceiling and floor tiles, etc. (you can read more about it here.) The use of asbestos in many products was banned in the late 1970's because it was found that breathing in these fibers caused lung cancer, including mesothelioma. Serious stuff. (and literally as I'm sitting here writing this, a commercial just ran on tv for a law firm representing people who have mesothelioma caused by asbestos.)
It is said that homes built prior to 1970 are likely to have asbestos materials. It only becomes dangerous when the asbestos containing materials are disturbed and the fibers are released into the air where someone could breathe them in. So since our house was built in 1961 the demolition company required that we had the area checked for asbestos and removed prior to the demolition starting. Typically old popcorn ceilings contain asbestos and after we had ours tested we found that it did indeed contain asbestos.
So last week the asbestos abatement guys came and did their thing. I was definitely imagining a scene from the movie Contagion with guys in hazmat suits. I couldn't see most of the process since it was obviously hazardous to be down there, but basically they first completely sealed off the area with plastic. It was like a clean room! They then sprayed the ceiling with water and then scraped off the asbestos-containing popcorn. While they worked they used something called a negative pressure machine to filter out any fibers that got released into the air.
They bagged up all the asbestos and it is apparently being hauled off to a landfill in Parker, AZ that is EPA-approved to accept asbestos. With that done, tomorrow is the big day - demolition begins!!