Asbestos was once a popular building material due to its resistance to fire and heat, but the fibers it contains are known to cause serious health issues like mesothelioma and asbestosis. If exposed, the fibers can also become airborne and be inhaled. While it’s possible to remove asbestos on your own, most experts recommend hiring an experienced professional. The good news is that while¬†professional asbestos removal can be expensive, it’s often worth the investment to protect your family.

Before you hire a contractor, ask about their training, experience and whether they are accredited. An accredited asbestos professional must follow all federal, state and local laws regarding notification, removal, handling and disposal. They should use protective equipment, including respirators and gowns. They should also have clean-up equipment and a HEPA (high efficiency particulate air) vacuum, which is specially designed to trap asbestos particles. They should also have a negative pressure ventilation fan in the work area to prevent the spread of asbestos fibers during removal and use specialized sealants to make sure the area stays airtight.

The type of asbestos you have will also affect the cost of the removal. Chrysotile, or white, asbestos is the most common and typically costs less to remove. Crocidolite, or blue, asbestos has thin fibers and is more hazardous and difficult to remove.

Another big factor in the cost of removing asbestos is the size and location of the affected area. A bigger home or commercial space will require more materials and take longer to seal off, which increases the overall cost. You can also expect the cost to be higher if you have a mixture of different types of asbestos in your home.

Before beginning the removal process, your asbestos pro should give you a written contract specifying the work plan and the costs for materials and labor. Before they begin, they should conduct a thorough visual inspection and collect and test samples of the asbestos. Then they’ll need to prepare the work site, which includes covering surfaces with plastic sheets and taping them with double-checked seals to keep asbestos from escaping during the removal process. They’ll also need a HEPA air filter in the work area and a clean air exhaust duct to capture any escaped fibers.

In addition to the cost of materials and labor, you’ll also need to factor in the costs for hazard assessments, permit fees, disposal expenses and travel time. In general, you can expect the cost of asbestos removal to be around $450 per square foot. If you’re worried about the cost, check with your homeowner’s insurance company to see if they offer coverage for this service. Also, look into a bundle package where you can include asbestos removal with other renovations in your home. That way, you can get the work done faster and save money on the costs of individual services. This can help to alleviate some of the stress related to the high price of removing asbestos.