The EPA has placed asbestos containing materials into two basic groups:
Friable asbestos is the worst of the two and is defined by the EPA as follows: “Friable asbestos material is any material containing more than 1 percent asbestos as determined using Polarized Light Microscopy (PLM), that, when dry, can be crumbled, pulverized, or reduced to powder by hand pressure.” As you can imagine floor tile would be difficult to make friable, but popcorn ceiling texture would be relatively easy.
Non-Friable asbestos is defined by the EPA as follows: “Non-friable asbestos containing material is any material containing more than 1 percent asbestos as determined by Polarized Light Microscopy (PLM) that, when dry, cannot be crumbled, pulverized, or reduced to powder by hand pressure.” But this grouping only describes materials that are in place and undisturbed.
The EPA further warns that if a non-friable material such as floor tile is very dry or in poor condition or gets run over by an excavator, loader, or other vehicle, it may become converted to a friable material. The EPA only recognizes certain persons to legally make this determination, a certified building inspector, and an AHERA Contractor/Supervisor, be aware that the local regulators that administer the NESHAP regulations have all the proper certifications as well.
Asbestos materials become a concern for Building Owners when you hire a General Contractor, or other contractors that may disturb asbestos materials through demolition or renovation activities.
Asbestos is also a concern when routine maintenance activities will disturb asbestos or asbestos in poor condition might release fibers, like old pipe insulation that starts breaking off and falling on the floor. The building owner is ultimately responsible for being certain that the regulations are being followed.
All schools K thru 12 whether public or private that are organized as “not for profit” under the IRS Code are subject to the AHERA (Asbestos Hazard Emergency Response Act) regulations. This means church schools, charter schools and any other schools. The only exceptions are universities, colleges, and schools which are organized for profit, like Devry Institute and ITT Tech.
The Federal AHERA regulations 40 CFR 763, Subpart E require that schools:
- Assume the presence of asbestos in building materials
- Conduct an inspection to prove the absence of asbestos
- Develop, implement and follow an asbestos management plan
- Maintain records as required
- Schools must have an Asbestos Management Plan and a trained “Designated Person” must manage the asbestos program.
All maintenance and custodial personnel that merely work in a building that contains asbestos must be trained in a 2-hour Awareness class. All those who may disturb asbestos must have an additional 14 hours of training (16 hours total – Operations and Maintenance). Both OSHA and EPA compliance depend on these training requirements.
Asbestos Ban and Phase Out
On July 12, 1989, EPA issued a final rule banning most asbestos-containing products. In 1991, this regulation was overturned by the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals in New Orleans. As a result of the Court’s decision, the following specific asbestos-containing products remain banned: flooring felt, rollboard, and corrugated, commercial, or specialty paper. In addition, the regulation continues to ban the use of asbestos in products that have not historically contained asbestos, otherwise referred to as “new uses” of asbestos. Below are the four relevant Federal Register notices and a document that provides more detail on the status of EPA’s ban on asbestos-containing products.
Asbestos: Manufacture, Importation, Processing, and Distribution in Commerce Prohibitions; Final Rule (54 FR 29460, July 12, 1989)
Asbestos; Manufacture, Importation, Processing and Distribution Prohibitions; Effect of Court Decision; Continuing Restrictions on Certain Asbestos-Containing Products (57 FR 11364, April 2, 1992) (FRL-4044-2) [PDF]
Asbestos; Manufacture, Importation, Processing and Distribution Prohibitions; Continuing Restrictions on Certain Asbestos-Containing Products (58 FR 58964, November 5, 1993) (FRL-4635-7) [PDF]
Technical Amendment in Response to Court Decision on Asbestos; Manufacture, Importation, Processing and Distribution Prohibitions; Technical Amendment (59 FR 33208, June 28, 1994)
Friable Asbestos Material
Friable asbestos material is any material containing more than 1 percent asbestos as determined using Polarized Light Microscopy (PLM), that, when dry, can be crumbled, pulverized, or reduced to powder by hand pressure.
Asbestos-Containing Waste Materials (ACWM)
EPA defines ACWM to mean mill tailings or any waste that contains commercial asbestos and is generated by a source subject to the provisions of this subpart. This term includes filters from control devices, friable asbestos waste material, and bags on other similar packaging contaminated with commercial asbestos.
As applied to demolition and renovation operations, this term also includes friable asbestos waste and Category II non-friable ACM waste that becomes crumbled, pulverized, or reduced to powder by forces that acted on the material during the course of demolition and renovation operations regulated by this subpart, and materials contaminated with asbestos including disposal equipment and clothing.
Non-Friable Asbestos Containing Materials
Non-friable asbestos-containing material is any material containing more than 1 percent asbestos as determined using Polarized Light Microscopy (PLM) that, when dry, cannot be crumbled, pulverized, or reduced to powder by hand pressure.
Regulated Asbestos-Containing Material (RACM)
Is (a) friable asbestos material, (b) Category I non-friable ACM that has become friable, (c) Category I non-friable ACM that will be or has been subjected to sanding, grinding, cutting or abrading, or (d) Category II non-friable ACM that has a high probability of becoming or has become crumbled, pulverized, or reduced to powder by the force expected to act on the material in the course of demolition or renovation operations.
Friable and Non-Friable Asbestos Containing Materials
The Asbestos NESHAP defines two categories of non-friable ACM: Category I non-friable ACM (asbestos-containing packings, gaskets, resilient floor covering and asphalt roofing products) and Category II non-friable ACM (any non-friable material not designated as Category I).
The Agency requires that, where the Asbestos NESHAP is applicable, friable ACM and Category II and non-friable ACM that is likely to become disturbed or damaged so that the material could be crumbled, pulverized or reduced to powder during a demolition or renovation be removed, from a facility prior to its demolition/ renovation. The fibrous or fluffy spray-applied asbestos materials found in many buildings for fireproofing, insulating, sound-proofing, or decorative purposes are generally considered friable. Pipe and boiler wrap found in numerous buildings is also considered friable.
Non-friable ACM, such as vinyl-asbestos floor tile, generally emits low levels of airborne fibers unless subjected to burning or to sanding, grinding, cutting or abrading operations. Other materials, such as asbestos cement sheet and pipe, can emit asbestos fibers if the materials are crumbled, pulverized or reduced to powder during demolition/renovation activities. Whenever non-friable materials are going to be damaged to the extent that they are crumbled, pulverized or reduced to powder, they must be handled in accordance with the Asbestos NESHAP regulations.
Codes and Standards for Asbestos Abatement
American Abatement complies with all current applicable federal, state and local regulations, codes, and specifications including the following (State and local regulations will vary):
OSHA Asbestos – Final Rule (29 CFR 1926.1101 published in the Federal Register: 59FR40964 (8/10/94), 60FR33974 (6/29/95), 60FR50411 (9/29/95), 61FR43454 (9/23/96), 63FR1152 (1/8/98), 63FR20108 (4/23/98), and 63FR35137 (6/29/98).
OSHA General Industrial Safety and Health Standards (29 CFR §1910 and §1926, published in the Federal Register, Vol. 51, #119; Friday, June 20, 1986, pages 22611 – 22790).
EPA National Emission Standard for Hazardous Air Pollutants (NESHAPs) (40 CFR, §61, Subsections A, B and M). As per Clean Air Act Amendments of November 20, 1990 (Updated 3/7/97; Arizona DEQ/AQD Asbestos NESHAP Program).
EPA – AHERA Asbestos-Containing Materials in Schools (40 CFR §763). (When applicable or specifically requested.)