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Asbestos In Homes

Asbestos is a name given to a group of naturally occurring fibrous minerals including chrysotile, amosite, crocidolite, anthophyllite, actinolite, and tremolite. Asbestos fibers have been used in a variety of products for purposes of reinforcement, heat and cold insulation, friction, fire protection, sound dampening, decoration, texturing, chemical resistance, and other applications. Over 3500 different products were made with asbestos. Typically, asbestos is found in pipe insulation, boiler insulation, tank insulation, duct insulation, fireproofing, wall and ceiling texture, plaster, wallboard, wallboard joint tape, wallboard mud, floor tile, linoleum, adhesives, ceiling tiles, roofing products, cement asbestos pipe, cement asbestos siding, attic insulation, and other products and materials. Products or materials that contain asbestos are defined as asbestos-containing materials (ACM). In America, asbestos was used in a variety of products and materials from the late 1800s to the present. Contrary to popular belief, asbestos is not currently banned from use in certain products such as floor tile, cement products, roofing products, gaskets, clutch and brake assemblies, etc. Prior to purchasing products or materials determine whether asbestos is present. Exposure to asbestos causes asbestos-related illnesses such as asbestosis, mesothelioma, lung cancer and other lung abnormalities. Generally speaking, asbestos-related illnesses do not show up for many years.

The State of Montana regulates asbestos projects in facilities where three (3) or more linear or square feet of ACM will be impacted. Asbestos project means the  encapsulation, enclosure, removal, repair, renovation, placement in new construction, demolition of asbestos in a building or other structure, or the transportation or disposal of asbestos-containing waste. Friability is a term used to measure how easy it is to crumble ACM and cause asbestos fibers to be released. Friable ACM or non-friable ACM that has become friable are considered regulated ACMs. Asbestos projects require project permits, the use of trained and accredited asbestos personnel, proper project control measures, and testing.

Asbestos Inspection

Asbestos might be present in many products and materials about the home. Ordinarily, this presents no problem as long as the ACM is in good condition and is not disturbed. Before you remodel your home, conduct repairs, or perform demolition activities, you should determine whether the materials that are going to be impacted contain asbestos. Knowing whether a material contains asbestos will also help prevent contaminating your house with asbestos.

Determining whether a material contains asbestos is done by collecting samples of materials and having a laboratory test the sampled materials for asbestos. Laboratory sample analysis costs roughly $15-$30 per sample. Homeowners can collect their own samples of suspect asbestos-containing materials; however, if you are not comfortable sampling building materials, you can hire an asbestos inspector/consultant. A list of asbestos consultants, contractors, and laboratories is available from this website.

Furthermore, identifying whether building materials contain asbestos will characterize the waste materials for transport and disposal purposes. The waste transporter, transfer station, or landfill need to know whether waste materials contain asbestos for proper handling procedures and employee safety.

Contractors Working In Homes

Contractors who conduct demolition, renovation, remodeling, or asbestos projects in a home, are obligated to follow OSHA regulations and other applicable regulations. According to OSHA, the contractor must exercise due diligence by inspecting for asbestos to determine whether materials that will be impacted contain asbestos. OSHA requires inspecting for asbestos as part of its hazard communication rules found in 29 CFR 1926.1101. The waste transporter, transfer station, or landfill which will receive the asbestos waste should also be contacted for any special waste packaging and handling requirements.

Many people mistakenly think that if asbestos-containing materials are found the material must be removed. In many cases, remodeling can occur without disturbing ACM. Consider all project options before jumping into removal. The Program maintains lists of asbestos consultants, contractors, and laboratories, for your reference. The Program can be reached at (406) 444-5300 or by sending us an E-mail through our Contact Us page.

EPA's website contains a large amount of asbestos and vermiculite information. Although EPA generally does not regulate asbestos in homes, asbestos information can be accessed by visiting www.epa.gov/asbestos or calling EPA’s Asbestos Hotline at 1-800-368-5888.

OSHA's website is www.osha.gov/SLTC/asbestos. OSHA can be contacted at 1-800-321-6742 or in Billings at (406) 247-7494.

If you have any questions concerning asbestos, feel free to contact the Asbestos Control Program at (406) 444-5300 or visit us at www.asbestos.mt.gov.

Updated 10/31/2011

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