WHAT IS ASBESTOS?
Asbestos is a mineral fiber. It can be positively identified only with a special type of microscope. There are several types of asbestos fibers. In the past, asbestos was added to a variety of products to strengthen them and to provide heat insulation and fire resistance.
HOW CAN ASBESTOS AFFECT MY HEALTH?
From studies of people who were exposed to asbestos in factories and shipyards, we know that breathing high levels of asbestos fibers can lead to an increased risk of:
- Lung Cancer
- Mesothelioma – a cancer of the lining of the chest and the abdominal cavity
- Asbestosis – a condition where the lungs become scarred with fibrous tissue
The risk of lung cancer and mesothelioma increases with the number of fibers inhaled. The risk of lung cancer from inhaled asbestos fibers also increases if you are a smoker. People who get asbestosis have usually been exposed to high levels of asbestos for a long period of time. The symptoms of these diseases do not usually appear until about 20 to 30 years after the first exposure to asbestos. Most people exposed to small amounts of asbestos, as we all are sometimes during our daily lives, do not develop these health problems. However, if disturbed, asbestos material may release asbestos fibers into the ambient air, which can be inhaled into the lungs. The fibers can remain there for a long time, increasing the risk of disease. Asbestos material that would crumble easily if handled, or that has been sawed, scraped, or sanded into a powder, is more likely to create a health hazard.
WHERE MAY ASBESTOS HAZARDS BE FOUND IN THE RESIDENTIAL HOME?
- Roofing and siding shingles – some may be made of asbestos cement, ‘transite’.
- Insulation – houses, especially built between 1930 and 1950, may have asbestos insulation.
- Textured paint and patching compounds – used on walls and ceiling joints may have asbestos. Their use was banned in 1977.
- Artificial ashes and embers – sold for use in gas-fired fireplaces may contain asbestos.
- Asbestos paper, Millboard, or Cement sheets – these may be used to protect walls and floors around wood-burning stoves.
- Floor coverings – Added to vinyl tiles and used as backing for vinyl sheet flooring, asbestos strengthens floor coverings, making them more resistant to humidity, as well as scratches and scuffmarks.
- Hot water and steam pipes – in older homes may be coated with an asbestos material or covered with an asbestos blanket or tape.
- Oil and Coal furnaces and Door gaskets – may have asbestos insulation.
- Household appliances – Asbestos is used for thermal insulation in the heat shields and filter of various household appliances, including: toasters, irons, deep fryers, slowcookers, dishwashers, refrigerators, ovens, range hoods, and clothes dryers.
WHERE MAY ASBESTOS HAZARDS BE FOUND
ON THE JOB-SITE?
The US Environmental Protection Agency identifies three categories of asbestos-containing materials (ACM) used in buildings:
Surfacing Material – ACM sprayed or troweled on surfaces (walls, ceilings, and structural members) for acoustical, decorative, or fireproofing purposes. This includes plaster and fireproofing insulations.
Thermal System Insulation – Insulation used to inhibit heat transfer or prevent condensation on pipes, boilers, tanks, ducts, and various other components of hot and cold water systems and heating, ventilation, and air conditioning (HVAC) systems. This includes pipe lagging, pipe wrap; block, batt, and blanket insulation; cements and ‘muds’; and a variety of other products such as gaskets and ropes.
Miscellaneous Materials – Other, largely nonfriable products such as floor tile, ceiling tile, roofing felt, concrete pipe, outdoor siding, and fabrics.
If a renovation project requires fairly extensive work, it may be wise to call in an EPA Certified Asbestos Inspector or Contractor. In this case, check into his experience in handling asbestos-containing materials, and be sure that he or she is licensed with appropriate State regulatory agencies.
Oklahoma Department of Labor, Asbestos Division
4001 North Lincoln
Oklahoma City, OK 73105
440 S. Houston, Suite 300
Tulsa, OK 74127
Please contact us with any questions you may have.
GUIDANCE DOCUMENT ON COLLECTION OF SUSPECT ASBESTOS BULK SAMPLES
1. When is asbestos sampling required?
Federal Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the Oklahoma Department of Environmental Quality rules under NESHAP regulations as mandated by 40 CFR 61 Subpart M, state that prior to the commencement of the demolition or renovation of a facility, the contractor/building owner must thoroughly inspect the affected facility or parts of the facility where the demolition or renovation operation will occur for asbestos containing materials.
- What constitutes a facility? According to EPA definitions, a facility means any institutional, commercial, public, industrial, or residential structure, installation, or building (including any structure, installation, or building containing condominiums or individual dwelling units operated as a residential cooperative, but excluding residential buildings having four or fewer dwelling units; any ship; and any active or inactive waste disposal site.
In addition, under 29 CFR 1926.1101 and 29 CFR 1910.1001, federal OSHA requires an employer subject to OSHA rules and regulations and all building owners to presume all thermal system insulation, surfacing materials, asphaltic materials, and vinyl flooring materials installed no later than 1980 to be asbestos containing. An employer or owner may demonstrate that presumed asbestos containing material (PACM) does not contain more than 1% asbestos by having a completed inspection conducted pursuant to the requirements of AHERA (40 CFR Part 763, Subpart E) which demonstrates that the material is not ACM.
- Does the OSHA requirements extend to private residential houses? Yes, when there is an employer to employee relationship there are no limitations based on whether it is an office building, commercial facility, installation or residential house. OSHA requires the protection of workers no matter where they work is completed.
2. Who can conduct this sampling of suspect asbestos containing materials to satisfy NESHAP or OSHA rules and regulations?
Only EPA certified and Oklahoma Department of Labor licensed asbestos inspectors and/or management planners can be used to conduct these inspections.