What is Asbestos?


Asbestos became a popular commercial product because it is strong, it will not burn, is resists corrosion, it is an excellent insulator, and it has very good hydrophobic properties (nearly waterproof). In the USA, commercial production of ACM began in the early 1900’s and peaked in the period from World War II era to the 1970’s. Under the Clean Air Act of 1970, the EPA has been regulating many asbestos containing materials which, be EPA definition, are materials with more than 1.0% asbestos content by weight (gravimetrically measured).

When mined and processed, asbestos is typically separated into very thin fibers. When these fibers are present in the air, they are normally invisible to the naked eye. Asbestos fibers are commonly mixed during processing with a material that binds them together so that they can be used in many different products. Because these fibers are so small and light, they may remain in the air for many hours if they are released from ACM (Asbestos Containing Material) in a building.

Building surveys are performed by defining homogeneous groups of suspected and presumed ACM, and then applying bulk sampling rules to the material groups throughout the functional spaces that are included in the proposed scope of work. A building survey should include information about the suspect materials including, but not necessarily limited to:

  • Material Description
  • Friability
  • Location
  • Quantity
  • Damage
  • Disturbance

This information helps Project Designers and Management Planners build a scope of work to safely and completely removed ACM from an affected area. More information provided by the building survey equates to a more complete and comprehensive removal and/or encapsulation plan. The survey is the first step in the identification and abatement process, and it is arguably the most important. Without a survey performed by a licensed, qualified, and experienced building inspector, your project can experience delays, setbacks, increased costs for additional bulk sampling and inspection, and in some cases fines for mishandling ACM or improper disposal of ACM resulting from a poorly performed survey.

Suspect Asbestos Containing Materials
  • Cement Pipes
  • Cement Wallboard
  • Cement Siding
  • Asphalt Floor Tile
  • Vinyl Floor Tile
  • Vinyl Sheet Flooring
  • Flooring Backing
  • Construction Mastics (floor tile, carpet, ceiling tile, etc.)
  • Acoustical Plaster
  • Decorative Plaster
  • Textured Paints/ Coatings
  • Ceiling Tiles and Lay-In Panels
  • Spray-Applied Insulation
  • Blown-In Insulation
  • Fireproofing Materials
  • Taping Compounds (thermal)
  • Packing Materials (for wall/ floor penetrations)
  • High Temperature Gaskets
  • Laboratory Hoods/ Table Tops
  • Laboratory Gloves
  • Fire Blankets
  • Fire Curtains
  • Elevator Equipment Panels
  • Elevator Brake Shoes
  • HVAC Duct Insulation
  • Boiler Insulation
  • Ductwork Flexible Fabric Connections
  • Cooling Towers
  • Pipe Insulation (corrugated air-cell, block, etc.)
  • Heating and Electrical Ducts
  • Electrical Panel Partitions
  • Electrical Cloth
  • Electrical wiring Insulation
  • Chalkboards
  • Roofing Shingles
  • Roofing Felt
  • Base Flashing
  • Thermal Paper Products
  • Fire Doors
  • Caulking/ Putties
  • Adhesives
  • Wallboard
  • Joint Compounds
  • Vinyl Wall Coverings
  • Spackling Compounds