Asbestos

Asbestos is the name given to a group of minerals that occur naturally in the environment. Asbestos deposits are found throughout the world and it is still mined in Australia, Canada, South Africa and the former Soviet Union. It differs from other minerals in its crystal development, which are long, thin fibers. These fibers are very strong and resistant to heat and chemicals. For these reasons asbestos was added to many older building materials including structural fireproofing, insulation on pipes and ducts, acoustical decorative ceilings, flooring, mastics and roofing materials. These types of building materials are presumed to contain asbestos if installed before 1980, unless testing has proven otherwise.

When left intact and undisturbed, these materials do not pose a health risk to building occupants. There is a potential for exposure only when the material becomes damaged to the extent that asbestos fibers become airborne and are inhaled. Asbestos is more likely to release fibers when it is friable. The term friable means the material can be easily crumbled by hand pressure. If powdered or friable forms of asbestos are disturbed and become airborne, an inhalation hazard may result. In non-friable materials like floor tile, laboratory cabinet tops, and roofing materials, the asbestos fibers are tightly bound in a matrix, which prevents the release of fibers to the environment unless the material is abraded, sanded or sawed.

If exposed to asbestos, several factors may influence whether harmful health effects will occur. These factors include the dose (how much), the duration (how long), and whether or not you smoke. Generally, adverse health effects from asbestos are the result of long term exposure to high concentration of airborne fibers. According to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), airborne asbestos levels in buildings are typically very much lower than those identified in industrial work places where asbestos health effects have been observed. People who have been exposed to asbestos and are also exposed to cigarette smoke, have a greater risk of developing lung cancer than someone who does not smoke.

For any additional questions or comments please contact Frank Perez at (520) 954-9757 or email.

Most of the information on the health effects of exposure to asbestos have been derived from studies of workers exposed to asbestos in the course of their occupations. From these studies, it is known that asbestos fiber concentrations for such workers were many times higher than those encountered by the general public or people who live or work in buildings with asbestos containing materials. To be a significant health concern, asbestos fibers must be inhaled. As such, asbestos exposure is principally associated with following respiratory diseases.

  • Asbestosis – a scarring (fibrosis) of the lung. The scarring impairs the elasticity of the lung tissue and hampers its ability to exchange gases.
  • Pleural plaque– a fibrous thickening of the lining of the chest cavity.
  • Mesothelioma – a cancer of the mesothelium (the lining of the chest and abdominal wall)

Increased incidence of non-respiratory diseases have been found in some epidemiological studies. Cancers of the larynx, esophagus, stomach, colon-rectum, kidney and pancreas have been found present in slightly higher than predicted levels.

Asbestos related diseases have a synergistic relationship with cigarette smoking. There is an increased risk of developing cancer from either smoking or an asbestos exposure. These two factors working together have a synergistic effect: a smoker exposed to asbestos is subject to an increased chance of developing cancer equal to the individual risk factors multiplied together.

Asbestos related diseases have very long latency periods. This is the length of time between an exposure that will result in a health effect, and the onset of symptoms related to the resulting health effect. The latency periods for asbestos related diseases range from 15-30 years for asbestosis up to 30-40 years for mesothelioma.

Asbestos related diseases conform to a dose-response relationship. That is, the greater the exposure to asbestos (in terms of airborne concentration of asbestos and length of time of exposure), the greater the incidence of asbestos related disease. Asbestos workers have the highest incidence of asbestos related diseases, significantly higher than people who live or work in buildings with asbestos containing materials.

It is not necessary to remove all asbestos containing materials from a building to assure a safe workplace. EPA recommends a practical approach that protects the health of building occupants. This approach includes locating and identifying asbestos materials in buildings, and proper management of the material.

The following summarizes the five major facts that EPA has presented in congressional testimony.

  • FACT ONE: Although asbestos is hazardous, human risk of asbestos disease depends on both the amount and duration of exposure.
  • FACT TWO: Based on available data from across the nation, prevailing asbestos levels in buildings appear to be very low. Accordingly, the health risk faced by building occupants also appears to be very low.
  • FACT THREE: Removal is often not a building owner's best course of action to reduce asbestos exposure. In fact, an improper removal can create a dangerous situation where one did not previously exist.
  • FACT FOUR: EPA only requires asbestos removal in order to prevent significant public exposure to asbestos, such as during building renovation or demolition.
  • FACT FIVE: EPA does recommend in-place management whenever asbestos is discovered. Instead of removal, a conscientious in-place management program will usually control fiber releases, particularly when the materials are not significantly damaged and are not likely to be disturbed.

When intact and undisturbed, asbestos building materials do not pose a health risk for building occupants. Damaged asbestos containing materials should be reported to Frank Perez, Risk Management Services at 626-8739. Specially trained staff are available to visit the area, determine if a suspect material contains asbestos, and to perform a hazard assessment. To avoid asbestos exposure, never attempt to handle damaged asbestos.

Risk Management Services provides asbestos management and abatement oversight services. All work involving removal, repair, maintenance or cleanup of asbestos containing material is conducted by certified workers in accordance with OSHAEPA, state and local regulations. Adherence to these regulations is important to assure protection of workers, building occupants and the environment.

Asbestos Awareness Training is provided for Facilities Management (FM) Maintenance Services, FM Custodial Services, FM Grounds & Labor, Residence Life Custodial Services, Residence Life Maintenance, Park Student Union Maintenance and CCIT. Should any university group or department wish, an informational class on asbestos can be provided by RMS. For additional information about the U of A's asbestos polices and services, or questions concerning asbestos in university buildings please contact Frank Perez at 626-8739 or fsperez@email.arizona.edu.

This information is based on surveys done in the early 90's. The survey did not include many buildings off campus and does not include any newly acquired buildings since the survey.

THERMAL SYSTEMS INSULATION (pipe insulation) exists in the following buildings:

  • ALL MECHANICAL ROOMS, ATTICS AND CRAWL SPACES IN BUILDINGS BUILT BEFORE 1975.

This material should be wrapped in a canvas or other material and is commonly found on elbows, valves and other irregular shapes, as well as straight runs of pipe. When in good condition, this material is not friable and not a hazard. However, water/steam leaks, humidity and repairs to pipes/valves can damage the covering on this material and sometimes requires the removal of the piping insulation.

If there is a hard, solid insulation material between you and the work you need to perform, assume it is asbestos until it is proven otherwise. Also if pipe insulation appears damaged, contact Risk Management for assessment.

ACOUSTICAL/DECORATIVE CEILINGS exist in the following buildings:

  • BABCOCK HALL - IN MOST ROOMS (BOTH RESIDENTIAL & ACADEMIC)
  • CORONADO HALL - ALL ROOMS EXCEPT EAST LOUNGE
  • ESQUIRE APARTMENTS - ALL ROOMS EXCEPT MAINTENANCE ROOMS
  • HUMANITIES/MLK CENTER - 2ND FLOOR - PART OF HALL AND A FEW ROOMS
  • CIVIL ENGINEERING - IN ALL LABS AREAS ON ALL FLOORS
  • ENVIRONMENTAL RESEARCH LAB - IN ALL EVEN NUMBERED ROOMS EXCEPT ROOM 114C
  • SKY VIEW RESIDENCE HALL - ALL ROOMS AND HALLWAYS

This material looks fluffy, (like popcorn), is very friable, (unless it has been encapsulated), but is in generally good condition. There is no hazard in performing work near asbestos ceiling material, provided the ceiling material is not disturbed by the work being performed. When these asbestos materials cannot be maintained in good condition they are repaired or removed.

STRUCTURAL FIREPROOFING exists in the following buildings:

  • CORONADO - BEAMS, COLUMNS, DECK & OVERSPRAY-ALL LEVELS
  • ADMINISTRATION - BEAMS AND OVERSPRAY-ALL LEVELS
  • VETERINARY SCIENCE/MICROBIOLOGY - BEAMS, DECK & OVERSPRAY-ALL LEVELS
  • PSYCHOLOGY - BEAMS AND OVERSPRAY-ALL LEVELS
  • MODERN LANGUAGES - BEAMS AND OVERSPRAY-ALL LEVELS
  • ARCHITECTURE - BEAMS & OVERSPRAY LEVEL 3 ONLY
  • USA - BEAMS & COLUMNS ONLY

This material also looks fluffy, (like popcorn), but is more like a cement. It is also in very good condition and should not need to be disturbed. However, there is overspray on HVAC and electrical equipment. There is not a hazard in performing work around asbestos fireproofing, provided the fireproofing material is not disturbed by the work being performed. Structural fireproofing overspray above drop down ceilings is sometimes removed because of renovations and maintenance in buildings.

Prior to working above the dropped ceiling in areas where asbestos fireproofing exists contact Risk Management to have ceiling tiles vacuumed before accessing areas.

ASBESTOS CONTAINING ROOFING
Found on many of the buildings on the University campus. All varieties of roofing systems and roofing materials can contain asbestos. These include but are not limited to: shingles, rolled roofing, felts, tar, pitch, caulk, patch materials and silver flashing paint. There is no hazard performing work on or around asbestos containing roofing provided the roofing is not disturbed by the work being performed. To date, there has not been a comprehensive survey of buildings that contain asbestos roofing. There are times when roofing must be repaired or removed because of leaks or because a building is being demolished.

ASBESTOS CONTAINING FLOORING
Found in many of the buildings on the University campus. There is no hazard performing work on or around asbestos containing flooring provided the flooring is not drilled, sanded or scraped. All nine inch by nine inch tiles are assumed to contain asbestos and many twelve inch by twelve inch tiles also contain asbestos. Asbestos containing tiles are oftentimes removed because of building renovation, demolition or because the tiles become damaged or worn.

Background

Thermal System Insulation (TSI) is used to control heat transfer or prevent condensation on pipes and pipe fittings, boilers, tanks, ducts, and other parts of hot and cold water systems; heating, ventilation, and air conditioning (HVAC) systems; or other mechanical systems. These insulation materials include pipe lagging, pipe wrap, HVAC duct insulation, block insulation, cements and muds, and a variety of other products such as gaskets and ropes.

Protection From Asbestos Exposure During TSI Removal

There are several levels of protection to help prevent asbestos fiber release during asbestos TSI removals.

Wet Methods – Whenever TSI is removed from piping, it is thoroughly wetted to ensure asbestos fibers do not become airborne.

  • TSI is not readily accessible to building occupants – TSI is commonly found in mechanical rooms and above drop down ceilings in buildings.
  • Glove Bag Removal – for the handling of the TSI. When properly installed and used, glove bags provide a small work area enclosure typically used for all stripping operations.
  • Waste Material Handling – Once materials are removed, they must be double bagged in layers of 6 mil thick plastic and then sealed with duct tape. The materials also must be segregated into a dumpster used only for asbestos waste. No removed asbestos containing materials are permitted to accumulate in the building or on the job site.
  • Trained & Certified Workers – In accordance with the University's specifications and County, State and Federal regulations, the workers removing the materials are trained and certified in accordance with an EPA recognized training program. The contractor is certified and registered for this type of asbestos work as well.

Some Other Information

You may see some of the contractor's employees putting on respirators and white suits. This can be, quite understandably, a little disturbing. However, OSHA regulations require that all persons working with asbestos containing materials wear respiratory and other personal protective equipment while they are working, regardless of other control methods in place the prevent the release of fibers. Signs at the entrance to work areas are also an OSHA requirement to inform people of the area where asbestos containing materials are being removed. The University mandates that the asbestos contractors maintain strict adherence to the aforementioned regulations. In addition, The Department of Risk Management Services closely monitors all asbestos removal projects to ensure compliance.

Background

Asbestos is a term for a group of naturally occurring minerals. These minerals are unique in that their molecular structure is fibrous in nature. This particular quality made asbestos minerals attractive to use in literally hundreds of building materials (pipe insulation, shingles, floor tile, mastics, roofing, structural steel fireproofing, etc.). Asbestos was also used as a component of spray applied textured ceilings.

Hazards of Asbestos

Asbestos is a respiratory hazard and respiratory/gastrointestinal carcinogen. Exposure to asbestos occurs when respirable fibers are released into the air and then inhaled. Since exposure occurs when asbestos is inhaled, the best way to prevent exposure is to prevent asbestos fibers from becoming airborne.

Asbestos containing materials are therefore divided into two categories: friable and non-friable. Friable means that a material is able to be reduced to powder by hand pressure. Asbestos containing materials that are friable, by their nature, have a much greater tendency to release fibers. They require specific control measures to prevent releasing fibers into the air. Conversely, non-friable asbestos containing materials, by their nature, do not want to give up their fibers into the air. This class of materials must be mechanically impacted (power tools such as sanders, drills, chippers, saws, etc.) to release fibers. Asbestos containing textured ceiling materials are a friable material.

Management of Asbestos Materials

The university's policy on asbestos containing materials is "management in place." Utilizing an Asbestos Operations and Maintenance Plan, the university maintains its asbestos containing materials in good condition such that they do not pose a hazard to building occupants or the public. When asbestos materials can no longer be maintained in good condition, they are repaired or removed. There are several management practices (outlined below) that the university uses to make sure asbestos containing textured ceilings do not pose a hazard to building occupants.

First, asbestos containing ceiling materials that are easily accessible to building occupants or that have been subject to renovation activities have been encapsulated. This is achieved by spray applying a latex, water based paint to the ceiling texture. In most cases, there have been several layers of paint applied to the ceiling material over the years. This encapsulation serves to seal the asbestos containing texture, prevents air erosion and fiber/particle shedding, provides a barrier between the material and the building occupants, and makes the material capable of withstanding light contact without resulting in damage.

Second, we endeavor to make sure that the occupants of university buildings with asbestos ceiling materials are informed of the presence of asbestos ceiling materials. Since these occupants are in the building every day, they are the quickest source of information on changes in the condition of asbestos containing ceiling materials. In addition, maintenance of the ceiling materials in good condition depends on the cooperation of building occupants (to prevent impact or damage to the ceiling material by occupants).

Third, most of the Facilities Management, Residence Life, Student Union, and CCIT personnel have been through an Asbestos Awareness class because these employees, through the course of their daily activities have the greatest potential to impact or come into contact with asbestos containing materials. The awareness class covers different types of asbestos containing materials, where these materials are located, and appropriate actions if they find damaged asbestos materials or need to have asbestos removed for their work. Since these employees are out in the buildings every day, they (like building occupants) are also a great source of information on the state of asbestos materials in university buildings and keep Risk Management informed of areas that need repair or abatement.

Fourth, the Department of Risk Management Services periodically inspects all the textured ceilings to make sure they are being maintained in good condition. Even those areas where there have been no reports of damage are inspected and appropriate response actions (continued maintenance, repair, re-encapsulation, or removal) are ordered.

How to Safety Co-Exists with Asbestos-Textured Ceilings

DO NOT "IMPACT" THE CEILING

  • Don't pin, hang, tape or otherwise attach anything to the ceiling.
  • Keep storage well below the ceiling (at least 12") to prevent contact.
  • Take care to avoid touching the ceiling when moving equipment around.

DO NOT LET OTHERS IMPACT THE CEILING

  • Discourage other occupants from doing things that could damage the ceiling material.
  • Remind maintenance personnel working in the area of the presence of asbestos ceiling material.

REPORT ANY IMPACT OR DAMAGE TO RISK MANAGEMENT (621-1790) IMMEDIATELY

  • Water leaks, delamination (ceiling material peeling off of the surface), scrapes, gouges, etc. need to be repaired immediately.
  • Outside contractors are usually not as well informed about asbestos - keep an eye on them or report their activities to Risk Management Services.

Background

Asbestos is a term for a group of naturally occurring minerals. These minerals are unique in that their molecular structure is fibrous in nature. This particular quality made asbestos minerals attractive to add to literally hundreds of building materials (pipe insulation, shingles, floor tile, mastics, roofing, acoustical treatments etc.). Asbestos was also used as a component of structural steel fire-proofing.

Hazards of Asbestos

Asbestos is a respiratory hazard and respiratory/gastro intestinal carcinogen. Exposure to asbestos occurs when respirable fibers are released into the air and then inhaled. Since exposure occurs when asbestos is inhaled, the best way to prevent exposure is to prevent asbestos fibers from becoming airborne.

Asbestos containing materials are therefore divided into two categories: friable and non-friable. Friable means that a material is able to be reduced to a powder by hand pressure. Asbestos containing materials that are friable, by their nature, have a much greater tendency to release fibers into the air and require extensive control measures to prevent releasing fibers into the air. Conversely, non-friable asbestos containing materials, by their nature, do not want to give up their fibers into the air. This class of materials must be mechanically impacted (power tools such as sanders, drills, chippers, saws, etc.) to release fibers.

Protection from Asbestos Exposure During Fire Proofing Removals

There are several levels of protection to help prevent asbestos fiber release during fire-proofing removal projects.

The first level of protection takes place even before any fire-proofing material is touched. Negative air containments are constructed in the rooms/areas where removal will occur. These containments are maintained at a negative pressure to the rest of the building. This means that air always flows into the containment, not out, so anything floating around in the air inside the containment stays in the containment. Negative air machines pull air from inside the containment, filter it through HEPA Filters, and exhaust it outside the building. HEPA filters trap 99.97% of all particles greater than 3 microns in length.

The second level of protection is a regulatory requirement. Whenever asbestos containing materials are disturbed in any manner, the material must be wet. The contractor is required to thoroughly soak, with amended water, the fire-proofing material before it can be disturbed. Materials that are wet do not release respirable particles into the air.

The third level of protection is in the methods of removal. The contractor is required (by University's specifications and OSHA and EPA regulations) to use non-abrasive removal techniques. In simple terms, they can only use hand tools (scrapers, "scrubby" pads, etc.) to clean the fire-proofing material from the equipment and concrete. Hand removal methods do not impact the material with great amounts of energy, and therefore are much less likely to render the material airborne.

The fourth level of protection is how the materials are handled during and after removal. As soon as the fire-proofing is removed, it must be gathered up, double bagged in 6 mil thick plastic bags, and then sealed with duct tape. The materials also must be segregated into a dumpster used only for asbestos waste. No removed asbestos containing materials are permitted to accumulate in the containment.

The fifth level of protection is the workers themselves. In accordance with Pima County, Arizona and Federal regulations, the workers removing the fire proofing materials are trained and certified in accordance with an EPA recognized training program. The contractor is certified and registered for this type of asbestos work as well.

Some Other Information

It is a little disconcerting to see persons with respirators and white suits working in parts of the building. OSHA regulations require that all persons working with asbestos containing materials wear respiratory and other personal protection equipment while they are working, regardless of other control methods in place the prevent the release of fibers. The signs around the work areas and dumpsters are also an OSHA requirement so that everyone is aware that asbestos containing materials are being removed.

Background

Asbestos is a term for a group of naturally occurring minerals. These minerals are unique in that their molecular structure is fibrous in nature. This particular quality made asbestos minerals attractive to add to literally hundreds of building materials (pipe insulation, shingles, floor tile, mastics, fireproofing, acoustical treatments etc.). Asbestos was also used in many different types of roofing products (patching compounds, asphalt impregnated felt, shingles, tars, pitch, etc.).

 

Hazards of Asbestos

Asbestos is a respiratory hazard and respiratory/gastro intestinal carcinogen. Exposure to asbestos occurs when respirable fibers are released into the air and then inhaled. Since exposure occurs when asbestos is inhaled, the best way to prevent exposure is to prevent asbestos fibers from becoming airborne.

Asbestos containing materials are therefore divided into two categories: friable and non-friable. Friable means that a material is able to be reduced to a powder by hand pressure. Asbestos containing materials that are friable, by their nature, have a much greater tendency to release fibers into the air. Conversely, non-friable asbestos containing materials, by their nature, do not want to give up their fibers into the air. This class of materials must be mechanically impacted (power tools such as sanders, drills, chippers, saws, etc.) to release fibers.

 

Protection From Asbestos Exposure During Roofing Removals

There are several levels of protection to help prevent asbestos fiber release during asbestos roofing removal projects.

The first level of protection comes from the roofing material itself. As a non-friable material, the roofing products do not want to readily release their fibers. The cohesive matrix of the materials (tar, pitch, asphalt) binds the fibers together with other materials. A great deal of energy is required to separate the asbestos fibers and release it in a respirable form.

The second level of protection is in the methods of removal. The contractor is required (by University's specifications and OSHA and EPA regulations) to use non-abrasive removal techniques. In simple terms, they can only use hand tools (shovels, chisels, hammers, etc.) to strip the roofing material from the building.

The third level of protection is also a regulatory requirement. Whenever asbestos containing materials are disturbed in any manner, the material must be wet. Materials that are wet do not release respirable particles into the air.

The fourth level of protection is how the materials are handled during and after removal. Once materials are removed, they must be double wrapped in layers of 6 mil thick plastic and then sealed with duct tape. The materials also must be segregated into a dumpster used only for asbestos waste. No removed asbestos containing materials are permitted to accumulate on the roofs or the job site.

The fifth level of protection is the workers themselves. In accordance with Pima County, Arizona and Federal regulations, the workers removing the roofing materials are trained and certified in accordance with an EPA recognized training program. The contractor is certified and registered for this type of asbestos work as well.

 

Some Other Information

It is a little disconcerting to see persons walking around with respirators and white suits. OSHA regulations require that all persons working with asbestos containing materials wear respiratory and other personal protection equipment while they are working, regardless of other control methods in place the prevent the release of fibers. The signs around the work areas and dumpsters are also an OSHA requirement so that everyone is aware that asbestos containing materials are being removed.

Background

Asbestos is a term for a group of naturally occurring minerals. These minerals are unique in that their molecular structure is fibrous in nature. This particular quality made asbestos minerals attractive to add to literally hundreds of building materials (pipe insulation, shingles, roofing products, fireproofing, acoustical treatments etc.). Asbestos was also used in many different types of flooring products (all 9"x9" tiles, some 12"x12" tiles, and mastics used to glue the tile to the flooring substrate).

Hazards of Asbestos

Asbestos is a respiratory hazard and respiratory/gastro intestinal carcinogen. Exposure to asbestos occurs when respirable fibers are released into the air and then inhaled. Since exposure occurs when asbestos is inhaled, the best way to prevent exposure is to prevent asbestos fibers from becoming airborne.

Asbestos containing materials are therefore divided into two categories: friable and non-friable. Friable means that a material is able to be reduced to a powder by hand pressure. Asbestos containing materials that are friable, by their nature, have a much greater tendency to release fibers into the air. Conversely, non-friable asbestos containing materials, by their nature, do not want to give up their fibers into the air. This class of materials must be mechanically impacted (power tools such as sanders, drills, chippers, saws, etc.) to release fibers. Asbestos containing flooring and mastics are classified as non-friable materials.

Protection From Asbestos Exposure During Flooring/Mastic Removals

There are several levels of protection to help prevent asbestos fiber release during asbestos flooring/mastic removal projects.

  • Flooring/Mastics are Non-friable – As mentioned above, floor tile and mastics are non-friable materials and as such do not want to readily release their fibers. The cohesive matrix of the materials binds the fibers together with other materials. A great deal of energy is required to separate the asbestos fibers and release it in a respirable form.
  • No Power Tools used for Removal – The contractor is required (by the University's specifications and OSHA and EPA regulations) to use non-abrasive, non-power tool removal techniques. In simple terms, they can only use hand tools (scrapers, chisels, shovels, etc.) to remove the flooring and mastic from the concrete deck of the building. A chemical is used to clean off any mastic that remains on the concrete after scraping.
  • Wet Methods – Whenever asbestos containing materials are disturbed in any manner, the material must be wet. Materials that are wet do not release respirable particles into the air.
  • Waste Material Handling – Once materials are removed, they must be double wrapped in layers of 6 mil thick plastic and then sealed with duct tape. The materials also must be segregated into a dumpster used only for asbestos waste. No removed asbestos containing materials are permitted to accumulate in the building or on the job site.
  • Trained & Certified Workers – In accordance with the University's specifications and County, State and Federal regulations, the workers removing the flooring materials are trained and certified in accordance with an EPA recognized training program. The contractor is certified and registered for this type of asbestos work as well.

Some Other Information

You may see some of the contractor's employees putting on respirators and white suits. This can be, quite understandably, a little disturbing. However, OSHA regulations require that all persons working with asbestos containing materials wear respiratory and other personal protective equipment while they are working, regardless of other control methods in place the prevent the release of fibers. Signs at the entrance to work areas are also an OSHA requirement to inform people of the area where asbestos containing materials are being removed.