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Occupational and Environmental Safety

Asbestos Management FAQ

How do I know if I have asbestos in my work area (in floor tile, ceiling tile, shingles, siding, etc.)?

The only way to be sure whether a material contains asbestos is to have it tested by a qualified laboratory. EPA only recommends testing suspect materials if they are damaged (fraying, crumbling) or if you are planning a renovation that would disturb the suspect material. Samples should be taken by a properly trained and accredited asbestos professional (inspector). If you have damaged building materials or plan a renovation in your workspace contact the Asbestos Program Manager for assistance.

What are the health risks if I have asbestos in my work area?

Asbestos that is in good condition and left undisturbed is unlikely to present a health risk. The risks  from asbestos occur when it is damaged or disturbed where asbestos fibers become airborne and can be inhaled. Managing asbestos in place and maintaining it in good repair is often the best approach.

Where can I find someone to remove the asbestos in my work area?

You as an employee do not want to remove asbestos from you work area yourself. As a general rule, the University only abates asbestos if it’s damaged or will be disturbed during an activity (renovation) in the workspace. If you think you need asbestos removed contact the Asbestos Program Manager for assistance.

Where can I find someone to test a material to see if it contains asbestos?

Contact the Asbestos Program Manager for assistance.

They are remodeling/renovating near my workspace. Do I need to be concerned about asbestos in the building materials?

The University tests all building materials that might be disturbed or removed during a renovation project to determine whether or not they contain asbestos before a project proceeds. If asbestos is present, it is removed by state certified asbestos abatement professionals prior to construction/renovation work proceeding.

Since asbestos was banned, do I need to be worried about products on the market today containing asbestos?

Most asbestos containing materials were NOT banned. On July 12, 1989, the EPA issued a final rule under Section 6 of the Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA) banning most asbestos-containing products in the United States. In 1991, the rule was vacated and remanded by the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals. As a result, most of the original ban on the manufacture, importation, processing, or distribution in commerce for most of the asbestos-containing product categories originally covered in the 1989 final rule was overturned. Only the bans on corrugated paper, rollboard, commercial paper, specialty paper, and flooring felt and any new uses of asbestos remained banned under the 1989 rule. Although most asbestos containing products can still legally be manufactured, imported, processed and distributed in the U.S., according to the U.S. Geological Survey, the production and use of asbestos has declined significantly.

Why aren't we taking it all out?

The risk from asbestos is when it is damaged and/or disturbed and asbestos fibers become airborne where they can be inhaled, so we disturb it as little as possible.

The University is required under the Asbestos Hazard Emergency Response Act (AHERA) to inspect for and manage asbestos containing materials properly through the development and implementation of an asbestos management plan. We can safely and effectively "manage in place" asbestos-containing materials that are in good condition.

Is the University required to do anything about asbestos in its school buildings?

Yes. We are required to test all building materials before we disturb them, and to have an Asbestos Management Plan in order to ensure we use the most effective way to reduce the hazard from any asbestos-containing materials that may be present. Options include repairing damaged asbestos-containing material (such as spraying it with sealants, enclosing it) or removing it.

What is an asbestos management plan?

An asbestos management plan is a document describing the policies and procedures the University uses to minimize risk to asbestos exposure.

How can we have the air tested in my work area?

AHERA only requires air testing following an asbestos response action (e.g., asbestos repair or removal activity) to determine whether the activity has been properly completed. However, if you have reason to believe that there may be an asbestos exposure in your work area, contact the Asbestos Program Manager.

Is it dangerous to have asbestos containing material in my work area?

Undamaged asbestos that is properly managed in place poses little health risk to students, faculty, staff, or others. Asbestos can pose a health hazard when it is disturbed and asbestos fibers become airborne where they can be inhaled. Undamaged non-friable asbestos is best left undisturbed and managed in place. If done improperly, removing asbestos has the potential to create a greater health risk than leaving it undisturbed.

Does dry wall or sheet rock contain asbestos?

There is no way to know whether these materials contain asbestos without having them tested. If you are concerned those materials in your home may contain asbestos and the materials are damaged (frayed, falling apart) or if you are performing a renovation that will disturb the material, contact the Asbestos Program Manager.

How can I report a suspected asbestos violation?

Email all tips to the Asbestos Program Manager.