What Is The Difference Between Abatement and Remediation?

Corner of a window prepped for mold remediation

When you think of abatement or remediation, your mind probably goes straight to asbestos. And while asbestos abatement is a commonly discussed practice, other hazardous materials demand even more exhaustive or different measures.

In the environmental, health, and safety fields, “abatement” and “remediation” are often used interchangeably but these have distinct meanings. The processes you or your organization need always depend on the hazardous materials confronted. It will be helpful to know the hazards and the scope of work to select the appropriate Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) for you or your team.

This article explains the differences between abatement and remediation and the PPE that may be necessary according to the scope of the work and the hazard.

What is Abatement?

Abatement is the process of permanently removing known hazardous material in surface areas so that it is safe for others. Abatement also includes encapsulation, which is sealing off hazardous materials so that it is safe for everyone.

Asbestos and lead are examples of toxic substances that would need an abatement if found in a building. Although the use of Asbestos is no longer prominent in home construction in the US, older homes may still have asbestos products. A study published in 1990, reported that 80 percent of insulation workers with at least 20 years of experience developed asbestosis and 40 percent died of asbestos-related sickness. Globally, an estimated 90,000 people die from asbestos related sickness annually.

All disturbed asbestos needs abatement and workers charged with abating these hazardous materials must wear quality coveralls that are less likely to rip and allow hazardous fibers in. These two substances are not a naturally occurring hazard in a home, so once they are abated or removed, they should not pose a risk anymore.

What is Remediation?

Remediation is the process of reversing, stopping, or eliminating environmental damage so that it does not happen again. This process is all-encompassing in the sense that it does involve abatement of hazardous material, but it also takes into consideration planning to ensure that the same problem does not occur again. Remediation does not stop at mere removal but also focuses on the source of a problem to completely correct it.

Abatement works for toxic materials that were intentionally placed but other more organically situated materials, such as mold, may require remediation.

In the case of mold, abatement would only be a short-term solution since the hazard is related to moisture problems in a structure. According to the EPA, full containment is recommended for mold-contaminated surface areas of more than 100 square feet or whenever there will likely be long-term exposure to mold.

In contrast, the EPA recommends limited containment for areas with 10 to 100 square feet of mold contamination.

PPE for Asbestos Abatement and Mold Remediation

The hazard that asbestos, lead, and mold all share is particulate inhalation.  These hazardous materials require respiratory protective equipment to avoid inhalation of hazardous fibers or dust. For mold removal jobs where mold only affects an area less than 10 square feet total, you may use an N-95 respirator. However, if the area affected by mold is 10 to 100 square or more, the EPA highly recommends a half-face or full-face air purifying respirator equipped with P100 filter cartridges.

The use of a half or full-face respirator may add another intrusion point in the neck area. In this case, the use of PPE with a respirator fitted hood can facilitate protection and movement. Because mold remediation can take all day or even several days, it is sometimes necessary to tape your PPE’s hood to the respirator to reduce breaches while working.

One of the processes for mold remediation is soda blasting (baking soda). Soda blasting increases the risk of mold spore intrusion and it is effective to also tape above and all the way down the zipper line to block intrusion points. PPE with a storm flap over the zipper makes this easier as it blocks particulates from breaching through the zipper. Taping a storm flap over the zipper is even more secure when soda blasting is required for mold remediation.

Lakeland’s Micromax NS Global (MNSG) coveralls come with both a respirator fitted hood and storm flap over the zipper for limited containment and full containment to protect mold remediators. MNSG coveralls are also perfect for limited use in Asbestos and Lead Abatement projects where particulate inhalation is also a hazard.

If your work moves from Remediation and Abatement to general cleanup, Micromax MNSA coveralls become suitable since most of the hazardous materials are out of the way.

Both of Lakeland’s MNSA and MNSG fabric also provide the same excellent particle filtration!


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