Asbestos Management

Asbestos is a naturally occurring mineral which is found in various building components and miscellaneous materials and when that concentration is at or above 1% asbestos, the material is considered an Asbestos-Containing-Material (ACM). The presence of asbestos would normally be associated with heating insulation, sound proofing, fire protection, or other high-temperature applications and as a strengthening additive to structural materials. Prior to 1980, the use of ACM was prevalent in the construction industry, automotive design, electrical applications and high-temperature applications where conventional materials were too costly, heavy or burdensome. Due to the age of the University infrastructure, it is probable that many buildings contain some asbestos within the construction materials. That material would commonly be found in/on walls, floors, ceilings, wiring, doors, piping and mechanical rooms. While not hazardous if left undisturbed, any activity which disturbs ACM could result in the release of asbestos fibers into the air. Asbestos, similar to any chemical substance, has an exposure threshold (i.e. “permissible exposure limit” [PEL]). For asbestos that level is measured at 0.1 fibers per cubic centimeter (f/cc) of air as an eight (8)-hour time-weighted average (TWA), or 1.0 f/cc as averaged over a sampling period of thirty (30) minutes. Such measurements must be taken by a certified technician or industrial hygienist pursuant to a specific EPA laboratory method.

The University monitors all construction or renovation activity to verify that the materials being worked are asbestos-free. If asbestos is identified through area sampling, then the material shall be abated by a certified contractor prior to any construction-related work. It is essential that staff and faculty know not to initiate any work in offices, laboratories or classrooms that might cause building infrastructure to be disturbed. Such requests should be directed to Facilities Services or Planning & Construction who in turn shall coordinate any subsequent investigation into the presence or absence of asbestos prior to the work commencing. On an annual basis the RM/EHS Office distributes a memorandum to all departments reminding them that asbestos may exist in our buildings and such precautions are necessary to protect the health and well being of our campus community (Reference Examples on this Webpage). A listing of those building(s) which may contain suspect ACM is provided on this page as a resource. It is the University’s position that if a material has not been sampled and determined to be negative for asbestos, then it shall always be presumed to contain asbestos, and considered an ACM in those buildings where suspect ACM exist.

The University maintains an Asbestos Management administrative procedure (AP 419), which is reviewed and updated as needed. It is the position of the University that asbestos abatement related work shall be contracted out to qualified contractors, and that any abatement activity be monitored by an independent air monitoring firm separate from the abatement contractor and answering to the building owner. Questions pertaining to asbestos management at the University should be directed to the RM/EHS Office at ext. 3-3527.

<<< Return to the Health and Safety Main Page