Asbestos is a group of naturally occurring fibrous minerals. It is mined and milled from rock and is thin and strong. Chrysotile (white asbestos), Amosite (brown asbestos), and Crocidolite (blue asbestos), are the most common types of asbestos used in manufacturing. Rarer forms are Tremolite, Anthophyllite, and Actinolite. When viewed under a microscope, Chrysotile fibers are pliable and cylindrical and are often arranged in bundles, whereas Amosite and Chrocidolite fibers appear to look like tiny needles.
one type of asbestos more dangerous than another?
There have been more cases of Mesothelioma and cancer found in people working with Crocidolite than any other type of asbestos. However, all forms of asbestos, except Chrysotile, are of the same mineralogical family called Amphiboles. Even though there appear to be fewer incidences of disease in workers who deal only with Chrysotile, all asbestos forms are believed to carry similar risks.
does asbestos come from?
Asbestos is a naturally occurring mineral and deposits of it can be found in most countries around the world. Most asbestos comes from the former Soviet Union, Canada, South Africa and Australia.
Q. How is asbestos mined?
Asbestos is mined from the ground usually by open-pit method. The raw material is very coarse and looks like old wood. The raw material is processed and refined into fluffy fibers, then the fibers are added to some form of binding agent, like cement, to form an asbestos containing material.
has asbestos been so widely used?
Asbestos appeals to manufactures and builders for a variety of reasons. Asbestos is heat and chemical resistant, doesn’t corrode, and performs well in insulating products. These characteristics, when combined with its flexibility to be woven, has made asbestos useful in many industrial applications. Few materials used for manufacturing, have all of these characteristics, making asbestos a popular choice for use in thermal, chemical, and fire-resistant applications.
many products contain asbestos?
has been estimated that 3,000 different types of commercial products
contain asbestos. In homes built prior to 1978, asbestos
is most commonly found as thermal insulation on boilers
and pipes. Unfortunately, it can also be found in many other household materials, which include:
- Blown-in attic insulation
- Vinyl floor
tiles - usually 9" X 9" tiles contain asbestos, but all
tile should be tested to be
attaches floor tiles to concrete or wood (also called "mastic")
caulking or glazing
duct insulation (usually found in corrugated or flat paper form)
cement siding (usually 1/8” thick and 8’ X 4’,
heavy duty panels
long has asbestos been in use?
Asbestos was first used in the United States in the early 1900’s, to insulate steam engines but was not used extensively until the 40’s. After World War II, and for the next thirty years, schools and other public buildings were built using asbestos and asbestos-containing materials (ACM). Primarily, ACM was use as fireproofing, insulation, soundproofing and decoration.
might I be exposed to asbestos fibers?
Asbestos can enter the environment from natural mineral deposits which have been exposed to the weather, and fiber releases arising from the application, disturbance and removal of asbestos-containing materials (ACM). Asbestos may be found in products such as floor tiles, roof shingles, exterior siding, cement, automotive brakes, acoustical and structural insulation, etc. Asbestos fibers can be released into the air when ACM becomes damaged. If friable ACM (material that can be crumbled by hand pressure) is disturbed and becomes airborne, an inhalation hazard may result. Asbestos fibers in non-friable ACM (i.e. floor tiles, sidings, laboratory desktops, etc.) are so tightly bound in the material that they are in, that they do not easily release fibers. However, if the material is abraded, sanded or sawed, the material can easily be rendered friable.
Q. What type of respiratory protection should be used when working with Asbestos Containing Materials (ACM)?
you need a respirator that is equipped with a High Efficiency Particulate
(HEPA) filter. These filters are magenta colored. There are
various factors that determine the type of respirator you need. To
learn more about the respirators and what would best suit your situation, visit
the Occupational Safety and Health Administration's website.
do asbestos fibers enter the body?
Breathing air which has asbestos-containing fibers in it, is the primary route of damaging exposure. Some of the asbestos fibers reaching the lungs are eliminated in exhaled air and others are coughed from the lungs with mucous. The fibers reaching the deepest air passages of the lungs can produce the greatest damage.
The digestive system can be exposed to asbestos fibers from drinking
water and mucous cleared from the lungs. A small number of fibers
may penetrate the cells that line the digestive system, but only
a few will reach the bloodstream. These fibers will be released in
the Skin - Asbestos fibers contacting the skin rarely
pass through the skin into the body.
can asbestos affect my health?
is important to note that not everyone who is exposed to asbestos
develops an asbestos-related disease. Available
information on the health effects related to asbestos exposure
primarily comes from long-term studies of people exposed
to large quantities of asbestos in the workplace.
Asbestosis - Asbestos
workers who breathe in asbestos fibers may develop a slow build-up
of scar-like tissue in the lungs called asbestosis. This scarred
tissue impairs the ability of the lungs and heart to adequately
provide oxygen to the body. This is a serious disease and may take
20 to 30 years to develop after exposure. Asbestosis can eventually lead
to disability or death in people exposed to high amounts of asbestos.
Cancer and Mesothelioma - Asbestos workers also have
an increased chance of developing two types of cancer: lung cancer
and mesothelioma. Lung cancer starts within the respiratory
tissues and mesothelial cancer grows from the thin membranes
that surround the lung or the abdominal cavities. Both lung cancer
and mesothelioma are usually fatal. These asbestos-related diseases
do not appear immediately, but may develop 20 to 50 years after
Plaques - All types of asbestos can cause a variety of non-malignant
pleural conditions as well. For reference, the pleura is
the chest cavity or the place where the lungs sit. A thickening
of the pleura can occur which can impair lung function. Pleural
plaques (a gelatinous substance) can also occur, typically after
about 15 years from being exposed to airborne asbestos fibers.
health effects from oral asbestos exposures are unclear. In some
areas where the residents are exposed to asbestos fibers in the drinking
water, cancers of the esophagus, stomach, and intestine may be a
greater concern. After reviewing the scientific evidence from human
experience and animal testing, however, health authorities are still
unsure of asbestos links to cancer in the digestive system.
been feeling sickly and there is asbestos in my home/office, is
the asbestos causing my illness?
latency period for an asbestos-related disease is between 20 to 50
years after exposure, therefore, any immediate health symptoms you’re
experiencing are probably related to something else. You should
contact a physician to discuss possible allergies or other health
problems as well as an environmental inspection specialist to evaluate
your home. To locate a specialist, please refer to the Indoor Air Quality Related Links Page.
there a medical test to determine whether I have been exposed to
X-rays - The
most common test used to determine if you have been exposed to
asbestos is a chest x-ray. Asbestos disease usually occurs
long after initial exposure (20-50 years). An X-ray cannot
detect the asbestos fibers themselves, so it will not be helpful
in determining if you were recently exposed to asbestos. However,
if exposure occurred 20 or more years ago, it can detect early
signs of lung disease caused by asbestos exposure.
Function Test -
Another test which can be conducted by a physician is a pulmonary
function test. This test is helpful in identifying lung capacity
changes. Periodic health examinations by a physician, including a
chest x-ray and review of asbestos-based risk factors, can be effective.
Asbestos risk factors include levels, frequency, and length of asbestos
exposures; period of time since exposures, and smoking history. The
combined impact of cigarette smoking and fiber exposures can increase
the chances of asbestos-related lung diseases substantially.
merely being exposed to asbestos guarantee health problems?
problems are usually related to the amount and length of time of
exposure to asbestos. The more prolonged and intense the exposure,
the greater the risk of a health problem.
are some statistics on asbestos-related diseases?
Primarily, individuals who die of an asbestos-related disease have had a history of long-term occupational exposure. For more information on the number of asbestos-related deaths as well as other asbestos-related statistics, please refer to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services web page
Siding and Vinyl Asbestos Floor Tiles
does “non-friable” mean?
means that a material is able to be reduced to a powder by hand pressure. Asbestos
containing materials (ACM) that are friable have a much greater tendency
to release fibers into the air. Conversely, non-friable asbestos
containing materials, because of their nature, do not easily release
their fibers into the air. This class of material must be mechanically
impacted (power tools such as sanders, drills, chippers, saws, etc.)
to release fibers. ACM floors, mastics, and siding are classified as
type of floor tile may contain asbestos?
has been used in most 9’ X 9’ tiles, some 12’ X
12’ tiles and in some of the mastics used to glue the floor
tiles down. The only way to tell for sure if something contains asbestos
is to have it analyzed by a laboratory accredited to do this type
of analysis. For more information on accredited laboratories,
go to that topic on our Related
Asbestos Links page.
a contractor and I’ve heard that in NJ, if I want to remove
asbestos floor tile or sheet vinyl flooring I don't need a NJ Asbestos
Contractor’s license. Is that true?
normally acquire a NJ Department of Labor and Workplace Development
license to conduct this type of work, but there are provisions for
an exemption from these regulations. To learn more about the
exemption process, you can link to the Compliance
Assistance Project page
or refer to the Indoor Environments Contacts page for information on how to contact the DOH.
exempted asbestos work, what is the approved method of removing
asbestos-containing floor tile in NJ?
DOH requires that contractors follow the Resilient Floor Covering
Institute’s “Recommended Work Practices for the Removal
of Resilient Floor Coverings” when removing vinyl asbestos
floor tile. To find out more information regarding the Department’s
requirements, you can go to the Compliance
Assistance Project page
or refer to the Indoor Environments Contacts page for information on how to contact the DOH.
have asbestos-containing siding, what should I do with it?
siding was commonly used as a building material. Asbestos siding
is durable and generally not as hazardous as asbestos pipe or boiler
insulation. Although some contractors insist on removing the
siding before replacing it, there is no State requirement that the
siding be removed before new siding is installed on the house. As
an alternative, you can either paint or side over it. If you
side over it, the new siding should be screwed in to avoid breakage
of the asbestos-containing siding. Should renovations require
the disturbance of asbestos siding, precautions should be taken to
ensure that there are no fibers released during the removal (see
the next question).
is the best way to remove asbestos-containing siding?
If it becomes necessary to remove the siding, it is recommended that it be
removed with minimal breakage. To do this it should not be
hammered, sawn, or dropped. Siding should be removed in whole pieces
and then carried or lowered to the disposal area (instead of letting
it drop to the ground). Siding will most likely break where
it is fastened to the building, these areas should be moistened
with water before attempting to remove the fasteners. Often
a type of pliers, called “lineman’s pliers” can
be used to cut off the heads of the nails. Fasteners may also
be cut by inserting a reciprocating saw behind the shingle and carefully
cutting it without damaging the shingle. The ground underneath
the work area should be protected with heavy plastic (>= 6mil)
in order to catch any debris that might inadvertently fall. Debris
should be carefully removed from the plastic at the end of every
workday. In NJ it is not required that a NJ licensed asbestos contractor
remove this type of material. The only exception is if the
building is to be demolished. For more information on this subject, please refer to the Indoor Environments Contacts page for information on how to contact the DOH.
do I dispose of asbestos-containing siding?
you have questions regarding the disposal of the siding once it is
removed, please refer to the Indoor Environments Contacts page for information on how to contact the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection
in Brakes and Clutches
brakes and clutches still contain asbestos?
most modern vehicles use asbestos-free parts, asbestos could still
be present in brakes, clutches and gaskets of many older or imported
vehicles. Asbestos is still widely used in some gaskets particularly
where heat can be a problem (such as in engine heads and vehicle exhaust
who works with brakes, clutches or replaces gaskets knows dust is
always present. The dust from the normal wear and tear on brakes
and clutches, which is generated when gaskets are removed, can be
a serious health hazard if it contains asbestos fibers. If they become
airborne, asbestos fibers (which are too small to be seen)
can linger around long after the job has been finished. These
fibers can be breathed into the lungs by anyone in the workplace.
a business may fit non-asbestos parts to vehicles, it cannot be sure
that the parts removed from customers' vehicles do not contain asbestos.
Common sense and good practice dictates that you play it safe by
treating all brake linings, brake pads and gaskets as though they
do I protect myself when I work on brakes and clutches?
National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH), the
Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) and the Environmental
Protection Agency (EPA) recommend that where asbestos exposures cannot
be eliminated, it must be controlled to the lowest level possible. Effective
containment and safe work practices are the best ways to control
asbestos-containing dust generated from brakes and clutches. Following
are some suggestions to help control asbestos-containing dust:
an area for all brake and clutch repairs.
a properly fitted respirator with a High Efficiency Particulate Air
(HEPA) filter when conducting brake and clutch work (these
filters are usually magenta
in color). Simple dust masks do not filter out asbestos fibers.
use an air hose, dry brush, rag or ordinary shop-vac, which will
stir up asbestos fibers. Wet
cleaning and vacuuming with a HEPA-equipped system is a safer alternative.
local exhaust system should be equipped with a HEPA filter.
parts before starting work helps to keep fibers and dust from becoming
a hand or pump sprayer with a wetting agent (like detergent) to mist
areas prior to beginning
your work area clean. This will prevent any asbestos fibers
from accumulating. Store
or dispose of asbestos-containing parts safely. Store new parts
which could contain asbestos
in the original container until use. Contact the NJ Department
of Environmental Protection
(DEP) for information on the proper disposal of asbestos waste. For
regarding these regulations, please refer to the Indoor Environments Contacts page for information on how to call the DEP.
stirring up asbestos while using air tools to loosen lug nuts or
smoke while working with clutches and brakes.
your hands and face before you eat, drink or smoke. Never use the
same rags used
drink, and smoke only in an area free of asbestos dust.
separate work clothes and shoes/boots while at work. Disposable
coveralls are the best
your street clothes in a clean place separate from the work area.
wear your work clothes and shoes/boots home. Talk to your employer
your clothes at work. Avoid taking asbestos-contaminated items
can harm your family.
possible, shower at work before going home.
more information on
this subject, visit
the CDC website.
in NJ Schools
afraid that there might be asbestos in my child’s school,
how can I find out about it?
schools are required to maintain asbestos management plans for each
of its buildings. These plans are required to include the type
and location of any asbestos in the building, regular updates on
the condition of the asbestos, and, if applicable, when it was abated
(removed). You should contact the Board office and request
to see the plan for the school you are concerned about. If
you are unable to view these plans, please refer to the Indoor Environments Contacts page for information on how to contact the DOH for assistance.
are renovations going on at my child's school and I'm concerned
they might be disturbing asbestos, what can I do about it?
Please refer to the Indoor
Environments Contacts page for information on how to contact the DOH for assistance.
a teacher and there are renovations going on at the school I work
in. I'm concerned they might be disturbing asbestos, what can I
do about it?
is covered by the Public
Employee Safety and Health Program (PEOSH) . Please refer to the Indoor Environments Contacts page for information on how to contact the PEOSH Program for assistance.
Q. How can I find out if I have asbestos in my home or not?
It is recommended that you hire a professional asbestos inspector certified by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency to conduct an inspection and take samples of any suspect asbestos-containing material. If you can’t afford to hire an inspector, you can contact an accredited laboratory to find out how much it would cost to analyze a sample and how they prefer it to be submitted.
Q. What types of testing methods are available?
There are a number of recognized testing methods for asbestos. Samples are typically analyzed by three main methods: Polarized Light Microscopy (PLM), Transmission Electron Microscopy (TEM), and Phase Contrast Microscopy (PCM). Not all techniques can be used for all sample types. Below is a description of each:
PLM - Typically fast and inexpensive; can distinguish asbestos fibers from other fibers such as fiberglass and cellulose; most common procedure for bulk samples; TEM recommended for accurate determination for samples such as floor tiles.
TEM - More expensive; state-of-the-science; magnification of at least 25,000X; accurately identifies fibers which PLM and PCM cannot confidently identify as asbestos or non-asbestos; recommended for dust wipe samples so that asbestos fibers are accurately identified; can be used for both bulk and air samples
PCM - Typically fast and inexpensive; cannot identify asbestos directly; for lower detection limits or confirmation of asbestos, TEM is recommended; common analytical technique used for analysis of air samples
Following is a chart indicating the type of sample and appropriate testing methodologies for that sample:
Method of Analysis
Polarized Light Microscopy (PLM)
Transmission Electron Microscopy (TEM)
Transmission Electron Microscopy (TEM)
Phase Contrast Microscopy (PCM)
Transmission Electron Microscopy (TEM)
do I know for sure whether or not something contains asbestos?
the insulation is labeled as asbestos you cannot tell if it is asbestos-containing
by merely examining it. To determine the presence of asbestos, a sample
of the material must be analyzed by a laboratory that is accredited
for analyzing asbestos. We recommend using a laboratory accredited
by one of these two following organizations:
is the proper way to take an asbestos sample so that it doesn’t
contaminate the area?
recommend that a professional take the sample, however, homeowners/building
occupants should be informed about the proper procedures to make
sure the area isn't contaminated during the sampling process. Following
are the steps that should be taken:
wet the area with a fine water mist where the sample is to
be taken. A small amount
of detergent should be added to the water to help it penetrate the
asbestos fibers better.
small sample of no more that one square inch of material is necessary
sample will be taken will generally have guidelines on the size
of the sample they need).
sample should be placed in two zip lock bags (one inside the other)
or some other type of
air tight container.
container should then be labeled with a description of the material,
where it was
taken and the
date the sample was taken.
seal any loose asbestos around the sample area, clear spray lacquer
can be used. Make sure
the nozzle is far enough away to mist the exposed area before
applying a heavier coat. If there
is any asbestos dust it should be wiped up with a
wet disposable cloth or paper towel. Any
towels or cloth used for this purpose should
be disposed of immediately.
to Do if You Have Asbestos
can I protect my health?
not sand, cut or break any asbestos containing materials (ACM). Even
if materials are non-friable they
will release fibers if they are disturbed in this
you must work in an area where asbestos dust may be present, wet the area
with a garden sprayer (or a regular spray bottle) filled with
a few drops dish detergent. The
detergent reduces the surface
the water and allows it to penetrate any asbestos fibers more
readily, thus keeping
them from becoming airborne. Dispose of any rags used to clean up ACM dust.
use a regular household vacuum on asbestos containing dust. Even
vacuum is equipped with a High
Efficiency (HEPA) filter, you will not be able to
decontaminate it properly
once you have vacuumed up the asbestos dust. Special
vacuums are used on asbestos
They are equipped with a
HEPA filter and
designed to filter
out asbestos fibers and be easily
decontaminated after use.
I have to remove asbestos if I have it?
are no state or federal laws that specifically require you to remove
asbestos in your home just for the sake of getting rid of it. Most
of the time, asbestos in the home is not hazardous. The most
common home construction materials which contain asbestos, are floor
tiles, roofing and siding. These materials are very strong and don't
readily crumble or release asbestos fibers unless they are subjected
to strong forces. Occasionally, other materials, such as asbestos
pipe insulation, boiler lagging, asbestos-containing thermal insulation (such
as batt or blown-in insulation), were used in home construction.
If you determine that you have this type of material, through inspection
and analysis by a qualified professional, you should seek the help
of a consultant to aid you in determining what you need to do to
remedy your situation. If you never disturb these materials, you
may be able to leave them alone. However, if you know that a needed
repair or renovation will disturb the material, you may want to start
planning with your consultant to abate the asbestos before the renovations
heard that vermiculite might contain asbestos, is that true?
is a naturally occurring mineral which may contain asbestos. The
uses of vermiculite vary. It has been used in potting soil
for aeration purposes as well as in attics for insulation. The
US Environmental Protection Agency has a considerable amount of information
on their website regarding this topic. Click on the following
links for more information:
can I do to make sure my asbestos doesn’t become dangerous?
you suspect or know that there is asbestos in your home, periodically
check it for breakage, tears, abrasions, or water damage. If you discover
slightly damaged material, limit access to the area and do not touch
or disturb it. If the asbestos material is more than slightly
damaged, or if you are going to make changes in your home that might
disturb it, professional
repair or removal is needed.
I remove the asbestos in my home myself?
there are no regulations that forbid a homeowner from removing asbestos
in their own home themselves, but we strongly advise against it for
a number of reasons:
can I find someone who is qualified to remove asbestos?
is a known human carcinogen. If it is removed improperly,
be seriously contaminated. Professional cleanup of
the contamination, could
be more costly than
if the abatement had originally been performed
are particularly susceptible to asbestos related disease. The
normal latency period
for an asbestos related disease in adults can be anywhere from
20 to 50
years after exposure. However,
among children, the latency period
can be much shorter,
striking them very
early in life.
is difficult to control without the proper equipment. Special equipment
designed for abating asbestos properly. This equipment must
be used and cleaned in a proper
manner to ensure that little
or no exposure
to asbestos fibers occurs during or after abatement.
- Asbestos fibers can be too small for the human eye to detect. Professional asbestos abatement contractors use specialized cleaning equipment and confinement techniques to remove and contain asbestos materials and fibers. Once complete, air samples should be taken to ensure that there are no asbestos fibers remaining.
requires all contractors who abate asbestos-containing materials,
to have a NJ Department of Labor and Workplace Development (DOLWD)
license. In addition, all of the contractor's employees (who conduct
the abatement) must possess either a DOLWD worker or supervisor permit.
For information on how to contact the DOLWD to request a list of contractors or check to see of a contractor is licensed, please refer to the Indoor Environments Contacts page
Please Note: The
only exception to licensing requirements for the removal of asbestos containing
materials is if the contractor has acquired an exemption for certain
types of non-friable
asbestos materials such as floor tile. For more
information regarding exemption requirements, you should contact
Assistance Project within Indoor Environments Program. For more information on how to contact this project, please refer to the Indoor Environments Contacts.
can I do to make sure the contractor I hire is competent?
be sure you are hiring a contractor who will do a safe and satisfactory
job, you may want to do the following:
the NJ Department of Labor and Workplace Development at 609-633-2158
contractor is licensed and reputable.
the contractor about their abatement history and for references from
a detailed estimate of the exact services to be provided, including
monitoring, design, replacement,
about their liability insurance, including the type, what it covers
numerous estimates, they can vary significantly. Make sure
all estimates are based
same job requirements and specifications.
hiring a monitoring firm (which has no financial relationship to
the abatement contractor)
to oversee the removal. Generally these
projects are done better,
but can be more costly.
importantly, talk to each contractor, learn exactly what they will
level with each contractor and then hire one based
upon an overall
evaluation of services,
not just cost.
yourself regarding what occurs during an asbestos abatement so you
know what to expect
and can understand what must be done.
Q. What steps take place during an asbestos abatement?
Following are the primary steps of an asbestos abatement project:
- All movable objects should be moved out of the area. All of these objects should be wiped down and/or vacuumed off (the only vacuum to be used for this purpose is one specifically designed to filter out asbestos fibers) prior to being removed. Any objects remaining in the area as well as the area itself should also be wet wiped and vacuumed.
- Any vents or other portals (doors, windows, outlets, etc.) leading to the area should be sealed with plastic. These are referred to “critical barriers” and should be given special attention when sealing, because they are the most likely areas where asbestos fibers would escape during an abatement. Filters (such as from the HVAC system) which may have been contaminated, should be removed and disposed of. In addition, all non-removable objects, which are not part of the structural components to be abated, should also be covered with plastic. Finally, the remaining area should then be covered with plastic to protect all surfaces which are not involved in the abatement.
Please Note: At this point, depending on what type of material is to be removed, a three-stage decontamination chamber may be set up. That chamber should consist of a series of three rooms. The three rooms are a “clean room”, a “shower room”, and a “dirty room” (in that order). Workers entering the work area should always change out of their street clothes and into disposable overalls, don appropriate respiratory protection, and then enter the work area through the decontamination unit. When leaving the work area, workers must leave the disposable overalls in the dirty room and take a shower, at which time they will also decontaminate their respirator. Additionally, there may be a filtration unit set up to create a “negative pressure” environment within the containment. This simply means that a specially designed air filtration unit will exhaust, through a High Efficiency Particulate Air (HEPA) filter (which is 99.9 % efficient in filtering asbestos fibers down to .3 microns in size), air from the contained area to the outside. This will prevent air from “back drafting” through decontamination unit into other areas of the building. If the material to be abated is pipe material, there may be general isolation of the work area (with plastic) and then they will use something called a glovebag to remove the ACM pipe lagging.
- The ACM will be removed.
- The area will be cleaned by wet wiping and HEPA vacuuming all surfaces within the containment area.
- A visual inspection should be conducted to insure all visible asbestos has been removed. If any material is found is should be removed and the area should be recleaned.
- A sealant should be applied to all surfaces to “lock down” any remaining microscopic fibers.
- Non-critical barriers are removed and the entire area should be cleaned again.
- Air sampling should be conducted to ensure that fibers which cannot be seen, or have not been “locked down” by the sealant, are not present. This sampling should be conducted in a fashion to simulate occupancy (often conducted with fans running). The acceptable limit for these air samples are anything below 0.01 fibers per cubic centimeter (f/cc) of air. If the air sample is above this, the area should be re-cleaned and re-sampled.
- Once acceptable air levels are reached, the remaining plastic barriers can be removed and the area can be re-occupied.
can asbestos-containing waste be disposed of?
transportation and disposal of asbestos-containing waste in NJ is
regulated by the Department of Environmental Protection (DEP). For
more information contact the DEP.
Q. Who regulates Asbestos Containing Materials (ACM)?
Environmental Protection Agency (USEPA) is responsible
for developing and enforcing regulations
necessary to protect the general public from exposure to airborne
contaminants that are known to be hazardous to human health.
The Occupational Safety and Health Administration(OSHA) is responsible
for the health and safety
of workers who may be exposed to asbestos
in their work place, or in connection to their
State Regulatory Agencies:
Department of Health
NJ Department of Health (DOH) is the lead agency
for the asbestos and
environmental health information in NJ.
Environments Program administers the Asbestos
Hazard Emergency Response Act (AHERA),
provides site audits
and a Quality Assurance/Quality
Control program for asbestos abatement
in schools. The DOH also provides training
and accreditation for
asbestos training providers
and conducts studies to evaluate asbestos abatement
and management methods.
Employee Safety and Health Program regulates
asbestos exposures among public employees.
of Environmental Protection
Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) regulates,
the management, transportation and
disposal of ACM. In concert with county health
departments, the DEP investigates
illegal disposal and oversees the
review of the
10-day notification submissions.
of Community Affairs
NJ Department of Community Affairs (DCA), regulates asbestos remediation
in schools and buildings
in which public employees are located and regulates the air monitoring
firms for asbestos
abatement projects. To find out who to contact the DCA, please refer to the Indoor Environments Contacts page.
of Labor and Workplace Development
NJ Department of Labor and Workplace Development (DOLWD) licenses
permits abatement workers and supervisors, and investigates
complaints of improper
abatements in private homes and commercial
buildings. For more information on how to contact the DOLWD, please refer to the Indoor Environments Contacts page.
Q. What are the US Environmental Protection Agency’s
(EPA’s) regulations governing asbestos?
1979, under the Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA), EPA began an
asbestos technical assistance
program for building owners, environmental groups, contractors and
May 1982, EPA issued the first regulation intended to control asbestos
in schools under the
authority of TSCA; this regulation was known as the "Asbestos-in-Schools
in 1985, loans and grants have been given each year to aid Local
(LEAs) in conducting asbestos abatement
projects under the Asbestos School Hazard
Abatement Act (ASHAA).
1986, the Asbestos Hazard Emergency Response Act (AHERA; Asbestos-Containing
Materials in Schools,
40 CFR Part 763, Subpart E) was signed into law as Title II of TSCA. AHERA
is more inclusive
than the May 1982 Asbestos-in-Schools Rule. AHERA requires
Local Education Authorities
(LEAs) to hire an accredited individual to inspect their schools
for Asbestos Containing Building Materials (ACBM) and prepare
asbestos management plans
which recommend the
best way to reduce the asbestos hazard. Once all required approvals
have been granted and the
notification requirements have been met, the plan is implemented. AHERA
also requires that abatement
planner/project, workers and supervisors
also be accredited. Contractors who improperly
remove asbestos from schools
can be liable under both AHERA and the National Emission
Standards for Hazardous Air
Pollutants (NESHAP). For more information on Asbestos in NJ
Schools you can contact the
Indoor Environments Program.
Clean Air Act (CAA) of 1970 requires EPA to develop and enforce regulations
to protect the general
requires the EPA to develop and enforce regulations to protect the
general public from exposure
to airborne contaminants that are known to be hazardous to human
health. In accordance
with Section 112 of the CAA, EPA established the National Emission
Standards for Hazardous
Air Pollutants (NESHAP). Asbestos was one of the first hazardous
air pollutants regulated
under Section 112. On March 31, 1971, the EPA identified asbestos
as a hazardous pollutant,
and on April 6, 1973, EPA promulgated the Asbestos NESHAP in 40 CFR
Part 61, Subpart M.
In short, Asbestos NESHAPs is intended to
minimize the release of asbestos fibers during activities involving
the handling of asbestos. Accordingly, it specifies removal
of asbestos and work practices to be followed prior to renovations
and demolitions of buildings which contain a certain threshold
amount of friable asbestos. Most
often, NESHAPs requires action to be taken by the person
who owns, leases, operates, controls or supervises the facility
being demolished or renovated. The regulation requires
owners and operators subject to NESHAPs to notify delegated
State and local agencies and/or their EPA Regional Offices before
demolition or renovation activities begin. Waste
handling and disposal are also regulated by NESHAPs.
Ban and Phase-out Rule:
1989, EPA published the “Asbestos: Manufacture, Importation,
Processing, and Distribution in Commerce Prohibitions; Final Rule” (40
CFR Part 763, Subpart I). The rule would have eventually banned
about 94 percent of the asbestos used in the US (based on 1985 estimates). However,
in 1991, the US Court of Appeals, Fifth Circuit, vacated and remanded
the majority of the rule. Currently, the manufacture, importation,
processing and distribution of most asbestos-containing products
is still legal. For more information, go to the next section entitled “Overturning of Asbestos Ban”.
of Asbestos Ban
Q. Wasn’t the use and manufacture of asbestos banned?
1989, Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) published the “Asbestos:
Manufacture, Importation, Processing, and Distribution in Commerce
Prohibitions; Final Rule” (40 CFR Part 763, Subpart I). The
rule would have eventually banned about 94 percent of the asbestos
used in the US (based on 1985 estimates). However, in 1991,
the US Court of Appeals, Fifth Circuit, vacated and remanded the
majority of the rule. Currently, the manufacture, importation,
processing and distribution of most asbestos-containing products
is still legal. To learn more about the overturning of the asbestos ban, go to EPA's website.
did the courts overturn the ban on asbestos?
comprehensive, 57-page opinion written by Judge Jerry E. Smith, states
that the Court "conclude(d) that EPA has presented insufficient
evidence to justify its asbestos ban." The Court stated that
its conclusion was based on "the failure of EPA to consider
all necessary evidence" and "to give adequate weight to
statutory language requiring it to promulgate the least burdensome,
reasonable regulation required to protect the environment adequately."
The Court found EPA's
support for a ban under the Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA) deficient
in several major ways:
- First, after noting that a ban - "the death penalty alternative" -
is "the most burdensome of all possible" rules
under TSCA, the Court held EPA had failed "to
explore in more than a cursory way the less burdensome
alternative to a total ban." EPA failed,
the Court stated, "to calculate the cost and benefits" of "each
regulatory option," as
it is required to do to determine whether "any other
regulation - would achieve an acceptable level of risk." The
Court explained that EPA had not made such calculations "as
it believed there was no asbestos exposure level for which the risk
of injury or death was zero," but that this Agency
assumption was incorrect as "reducing risk to zero
was not the task Congress set for the EPA in enacting TSCA."
- Second, the Court found EPA had failed "to evaluate the
harm that will result from increased use of substitute
products," many of which, the Court noted, contained carcinogens.
As a result, said the Court, the ban "actually may increase
the risk of injury Americans face."
- Third, The Court held EPA had failed by "basically ignoring
the cost side of the TSCA equation" to meet the statutory
requirements to "balance the cost of its
regulation against their benefits." The Court noted
that "EPA's willingness to argue (for) spending $23.7
million to save less than one-third of a life reveals that its economic
review of its regulations, as required by TSCA, was meaningless." The
court added "such high costs are rarely, if ever, used
to support a safety regulations."
- Fourth, the Court found EPA's procedure inadequate both because
it did not permit" full cross-examination of all its
major witnesses," and because it "failed
to give notice to the public" of the exposure estimates
that it "used to support a substantial part" of
its role. The Court found the latter flaw sufficient in and of itself
to "overturn" the rule.
Q. Does this overturn of the ban on asbestos mean that
there are no restrictions on the use of asbestos in the U.S.?
the court did uphold those portions of EPA’s rule that banned,
as of 1990, the new manufacture of asbestos-containing products that
were no longer being manufactured in 1989.
Training, Licensing and Permitting in NJ
Q. What types of state licenses/permits/certifications are required to do asbestos-related work in NJ?
New Jersey, all asbestos abatement Supervisors,
and Workers must
have NJ asbestos permits and their employers must
possess an asbestos Contractor’s license
in order to perform asbestos-related work. The NJ Department of Labor
and Workforce Development (DOLWD) issues all licenses and permits,
however the NJ Department of Health (DOH) oversees
Monitoring firms who perform clearance monitoring on any building subject to the NJ Department of Community Affairs' (DCA) Subchapter 8 must be licensed as an Asbestos Safety Control Monitoring (ASCM) firm. Employees of the ASCM firms, called Asbestos Safety Technicians (ASTs), must also be licensed.
For information on how to contact the DOH, DOLWD, or the DCA, please refer to the Indoor Environments Contacts page.
Q. Does NJ have reciprocity with any other states?
there is reciprocity for workers and supervisors who have currently
valid permits from another state, which has been authorized
by the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to
administer a state asbestos training and certification program. Applicants
must complete an Application
for Reciprocal Asbestos Accreditation [pdf 44k] and submit it to the DOH for review.
Once that application is approved, the applicant must pass NJ’s
third party state examination. Once the applicant has passed
the NJ examination, they may then apply to the NJ Department of Labor
and Workplace Development (DOLWD) for a permit.
For information on how to contact the DOH or the DOLWD, please refer to the Indoor Environments Contacts page.
Q. Are there requirements for asbestos inspectors, management planners, and project
designers to be licensed by NJ?
New Jersey has
no regulations that require state certification for these disciplines. If
an individual has acquired AHERA/EPA accredited certification in these disciplines
from another US
Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) authorized
state, you are qualified to do this type of work in New Jersey. Proof
of these certifications must be made available upon request.
Q. Where can I get more information on asbestos?
For more information, please refer to the Indoor Environments Contacts page or go to the related asbestos links page.