Asbestos in Commercial Buildings

We have talked a lot about asbestos being found in your home, but what about the asbestos present within commercial buildings? Commercial buildings are all around us in the United States. Offices, shopping malls, restaurants and more are all used for commercial purposes and many of them were built with asbestos materials.

Buildings built as recently as 1985 have tested positive for asbestos. Whether the substance has been worked into the insulation, flooring, or wall and ceiling treatments, it is likely that many older buildings contain the substance. These materials become a hazard to human health when they are breaking down and deteriorating. When this happens, asbestos fibers can be released into the air and breathed in by individuals, which can lead to fatal asbestos-related diseases.

To building owners in Albuquerque, New Mexico, the presence of asbestos in commercial buildings poses more danger to the value of property than the safety of those that occupy them. “The motivation to proactively address potential asbestos issues in a building has more to do with avoiding financing issues in a sale and less to do with potential legal liability to asbestos exposure claims by tenants,” says a commercial real estate and environmental lawyer in Albuquerque. “It can devalue the collateral – the property itself – by as much as 50 percent, according to some studies.”

In a way, this is a good thing. Environmental assessments have become routine in commercial real estate transactions.

If asbestos is found to be present in a commercial building, many property owners choose to seal off the material, rather than remove it altogether. This is not unheard of, but it is suggested that the building have an operation and maintenance plan, which includes awareness training for janitorial and other workers who might come into contact with the substance — even after it has been sealed.

Do you worry about damaged asbestos being found in a commercial building you spend time in on a regular basis? Find out when the building was constructed to begin determining if it is present or not. If you are working in the building, you have the right to a safe work environment.