Asbestos Fact Sheet

Asbestos was used in a wide variety of building materials and building components during the twentieth century. The widest use occurred from 1940 – 1975.
Among the building materials found to contain asbestos are:
·         acoustical texture
·         Fire-proofing
·         plaster
·         joint compound
·         wall texture
·         spackle
·         attic and wall insulation
·         resilient flooring
·         mastic
·         recessed lighting fixtures
·         wiring
·         elevator brakes
·         fire doors
·         piping insulation
·         piping joints
·         gaskets
·         valve packing and insulation
·         exhaust pipe
·         exhaust hoods
·         lab benches
·         blackboards
·         duct insulation
·         duct tape
·         boiler blocking
·         vibration damping cloth
·         building panels
·         siding
·         shingles
·         roofing felt
·         roofing tar
·         textured paint
·         flashing
·         water-proofing putty
·         window caulking
·         door insulation
·         stucco
·         mortar
·         concrete
·         swimming pool plaster
·         asbestos cement pipe, shingles, panels, siding (transite™)
Asbestos is hazardous when inhaled. When asbestos-containing materials deteriorate or are damaged, asbestos fibers are released into the air. Fibers that are inhaled can lodge and remain in the lungs, or migrate to other locations in the body. Asbestos fibers have been shown to cause asbestosis, lung cancer and mesothelioma. Especially at risk are 1) occupationally exposed workers (mainly in the construction industry), 2) children, who will retain any inhaled fibers for decades, and 3) occupationally exposed smokers, who experience a greatly enhanced risk of lung cancer.
The most likely building materials to release fibers are those that are most likely to be damaged (friable materials). Typical friable materials are fireproofing on beams, acoustical texture and ceiling tiles. Non-friable materials are not likely to release fibers unless heavily damaged (made friable). Typical non-friable materials include vinyl floor tile, asphaltic roofing, mastics and asbestos-cement (transite) materials.
Current federal regulations 1) ban most mechanical system insulation and spray applied products, but do not restrict the use of most of the above bulleted list in new buildings, 2) specify work practices for the disturbance of asbestos-containing material, and 3) require the identification of asbestos in schools (AHERA) and in commercial and public buildings that are to be remodeled or demolished by either assuming or presuming it’s presence or by sampling (OSHA, NESHAP). Exposure standards exist for the workplace (OSHA) and to clear abatements in schools (AHERA).

ASTM International has also published three standards for asbestos control, and may be accessed at

16th May, 2013   Inline

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