Hello, my name is Bob and I’m a graduate of Asbestos University. That’s the name I’ve recently given to the path my life has taken as I traveled from being a student at Benson High School in Portland, Oregon to ultimately becoming a certified Asbestos Building Inspector and forming the company, EnviroTest.
Looking back to high school, I have fond memories of chemistry class where I remember learning that Asbestos could be woven into a fireproof fabric that could insulate a Pyrex flask from the direct flame of a red hot Bunsen burner.
But as much as I loved chemistry class, my favorite was the electronics lab where much of the insulation on high voltage wiring was made of an asbestos fabric which always seemed to be frayed and leaving dust behind.
See a pattern taking shape here?
Throughout my life, some of the most memorable experiences also involved close contact with asbestos. But, that’s the norm for anyone who grew up during the middle of the 20th century.
Asbestos was everywhere.
- Johns-Manville used it in fireproof roofing materials.
- Armstrong used it in floor tiles to make them stronger.
- Interior decorators used it in ceiling textures to make them more interesting.
- Ironing board covers were woven with asbestos to prevent the iron from burning a hole in the fabric.
- Furnace ducts were sealed with asbestos tape because it could withstand high temperatures.
- Boiler piping was lagged with asbestos to prevent people from getting burned if they touched them.
- Cigarette filters even had asbestos in them!
Entering the Coast Guard
In the mid-1960’s, when I enlisted in the U.S Coast Guard, asbestos played many important roles on board ships, in barracks buildings, and even in our airplanes.
The military’s extensive use of asbestos between the years of 1930 and 1980 has led to 1/3 of today’s mesothelioma cases being veterans.
Of those veterans, the ones who served in the Navy and the Coast Guard are at the highest risk, because they often served on ships or in shipyards where asbestos-related work was prevalent.
It is said that time flies when you are having fun and so it was with my 20-year Coast Guard career!
My Next Chapter: Becoming an Asbestos Building Inspector
My life experiences have continued to lead me to a new career in environmental testing. Being an Asbestos Building Inspector would be nearly impossible without a good grasp of both science and building construction techniques.
As the director of manufacturing for an electro-mechanical air cleaning device, I spent many hours each day taking air samples, looking for any live bacteria that was left behind.
Working for a regional land developer provided a strong background in new home construction.
Owning and operating my own handyman service for 17 years permitted me to see nearly everything that can fail in a home. And, it allowed me to work on homes that were constructed during three different centuries!
I’ve seen how construction methods have changed and how modern homeowners aren’t always thrilled at the thought of having asbestos in their homes!
Welcome to EnviroTest!
So that’s my story, from my first chemistry class to my new career as a Certified Asbestos Building Inspector.