Asbestos in Your Home - Arkansas Department of Environmental

Asbestos in Your Home - Arkansas Department of Environmental
ADEQ: What We Do
The Department of Environmental Quality is an agency of the
state of Arkansas. We are headquartered in North Little Rock
and have offices and inspectors throughout the state.
Our regulatory programs for
air, water, solid waste, hazardous waste, petroleum storage
tanks, and mining help protect
Arkansas’ environment. We
issue operating permits for
business and farms and monitor for compliance.
We also manage many programs to assist business, educators and the public with regulatory, recycling and other
issues. ADEQ offers loans
and tax credits for environmental improvement projects.
Arkansas Department of Environmental Quality
Air Division
Asbestos Section
5301 Northshore Drive
North Little Rock, AR 72118-5317
Phone: 501.682.0718
E-mail: [email protected]
Revised August 2011
Prepared by
Asbestos in Your Home
This information is taken largely from a document developed in
1990 entitled Asbestos in Your Home. However, this
information is still of value to homeowners and renters. Hard
copies of the 1990 document are available from the Toxic
Substances Control Act (TSCA) Assistance Information
Service at 202.554.1404, or from the Asbestos Ombudsman at
1.800.368.5888. Copies of this revised document are available
through the Arkansas Department of Environmental Quality,
501.682.0718, or at the ADEQ Asbestos Web Page
This booklet will help you understand asbestos: what it is, its
health effects, where it is in your home and what to do about it.
Even if asbestos is in your home, this is usually NOT a
serious problem. The mere presence of asbestos in a home
or building is not hazardous. The danger is that asbestos
materials may become damaged over time. Damaged
asbestos may release fibers and become a health hazard.
Disturbing it may create a health hazard where none existed
before. Read this booklet before you have any asbestos
material inspected, removed or repaired.
Computer Links for more information:
Asbestos in Your Home is found at Arkansas Department of
Environmental Quality asbestos web site.
More information about asbestos and its health effects.
Protect your family from asbestos-contaminated vermiculite
insulation in your home.
Training requirements for asbestos professionals.
Current Best Practices for Preventing Asbestos Exposure
Among Brake and Clutch Repair Workers
EPA Regional & State Asbestos Contacts
U.S. Department of Labor, Occupational Safety and Health
Administration (OSHA)
American Lung Association
Arkansas-licensed Asbestos Contractors and Consultants
U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission
Suspected asbestos floor tile in poor condition
Examples of Where Asbestos Hazards
May Be Found In The Home
This document may be reproduced without charge, in whole or in
part, without permission, except for use as advertising material or
product endorsement. Any such reproduction should credit the
American Lung Association, the U.S. Consumer Product Safety
Commission, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, and the
Arkansas Department of Environmental Quality. The use of all or
any part of this document in a deceptive or inaccurate manner or
for purposes of endorsing a particular product may be subject to
appropriate legal action. EPA is currently reviewing and revising
the original document.
Statement by the American Lung Association: The Statements
in this brochure are based in part upon the results of a workshop
concerning asbestos in the home which was sponsored by the
U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission and the American
Lung Association (ALA). The sponsors believe that this brochure
provides an accurate summary of useful information discussed at
the workshop and obtained from other sources. However, ALA
did not develop the underlying information used to create the
brochure and does not warrant the accuracy and completeness of
such information. ALA emphasizes that asbestos should not be
handled, sampled, removed or repaired by anyone other than a
qualified professional.
Some roofing and siding shingles are made of asbestos cement.
Houses built between 1930 and 1950 may have asbestos as
insulation in several places.
Attic and wall insulation produced using vermiculite ore,
particularly ore that originated from a Libby, Montana mine,
may contain asbestos fibers. Vermiculite was mined in Libby,
Montana between 1923 and 1990. Prior to its close in 1990,
much of the world's supply of vermiculite came from the Libby
mine. This mine had a natural deposit of asbestos which
resulted in the vermiculite being contaminated with asbestos.
(See EPA's 2003 brochure on Current Best Practices for
Vermiculite Attic Insulation. A link to that brochure is listed at
the end of this booklet.)
Asbestos may be present in textured paint and in patching
compounds used on wall and ceiling joints. Their use was
banned in 1977.
Artificial ashes and embers sold for use in gas-fired fireplaces
may contain asbestos.
Older products such as stove-top pads may have some
asbestos compounds.
Walls and floors around wood-burning stoves may be protected
with asbestos paper, millboard, or cement sheets.
Asbestos is found in some vinyl floor tiles and the backing on
vinyl sheet flooring and adhesives.
Hot water and steam pipes in older houses may be coated with
an asbestos material or an insulating blanket or tape.
Oil and coal furnace door gaskets may have insulation
containing asbestos.
Removing pipe insulation
What Is Asbestos?
More Information
Asbestos is a mineral fiber. It can be positively identified only
with a special type of microscope. There are several types of
asbestos fibers. In the past, asbestos was added to strengthen a
variety of products and to provide heat insulation and fire
How Can Asbestos
Affect My Health?
From studies of people who
were exposed to asbestos in
factories and shipyards, we
know that breathing high levels
of asbestos fibers can lead to an
increased risk of:
lung cancer;
mesothelioma, a cancer of the
lining of the chest and the abdominal
cavity; and
Call the Arkansas Department of Environmental Quality at
501.682.0718 or go to the ADEQ Asbestos Section web page:
To find out which companies in your section of Arkansas can
provide training for asbestos removal contractors and
consultants, and for information on Arkansas asbestos
Call the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency at 202.554.1404
or the EPA Region 6 Office in Dallas, 214.665.7575, for more
information about asbestos.
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency asbestos web page
can be found at:
Asbestos fibers
asbestosis, in which the lungs become scarred with fibrous tissue.
The risk of lung cancer and mesothelioma increases with the
number of fibers inhaled. The risk of lung cancer from inhaling
asbestos fibers is also greater if you smoke. People who get
asbestosis have usually been exposed to high levels of asbestos
for a long time. The symptoms of these diseases do not
usually appear until about 20 to 30 years after the first
exposure to asbestos.
Most people exposed to small amounts of asbestos, as we all are
in our daily lives, do not develop these health problems.
However, if disturbed, asbestos material may release asbestos
fibers, which can be inhaled into the lungs. The fibers can remain
there for a long time, increasing the risk of disease. Asbestos
material that would crumble easily if handled, or that has been
sawed, scraped, or sanded into a powder, is more likely to create
a health hazard.
For more information about asbestos in consumer products,
contact the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission:
By writing -- U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission
4330 East West Highway
Bethesda, MD 20814
By telephone, at the toll-free consumer hotline: 800.638.2772.
A teletypewriter (TTY) is available for the hearing impaired
at 301.595.7054.
By internet web site:
American Lung Association
Call the American Lung Association with questions about your
lung health. Ask an expert. Call 800.548.8252.
Go to the ALA web site at:
Where Can I Find Asbestos?
When Can It Be A Problem?
Do not dust, sweep, or vacuum debris that may contain asbestos.
These steps will disturb tiny asbestos fibers and may release
them into the air. Remove dust by wet mopping or with a special
HEPA (high efficiency particulate air) vacuum cleaner used by
trained asbestos contractors.
Most products made today do not contain asbestos. Those few
products made which still contain asbestos that could be inhaled
are required to be labeled as such. However, until the 1970s,
many building products and insulation materials used in homes
contained asbestos. Products that might have contained asbestos
in the past, and conditions which may release fibers, include:
Steam pipes, boilers, and furnace ducts insulated with an
asbestos blanket or paper tape. These materials may release
asbestos fibers if damaged, repaired, or removed improperly.
Resilient floor tiles (vinyl asbestos, asphalt, and rubber), the
backing on vinyl sheet flooring and adhesives used for
installing floor tile. Sanding tiles can release fibers as may
scraping or sanding the backing of flooring during removal.
Cement sheet, millboard, and paper used as insulation around
furnaces and wood-burning stoves. Repairing or removing
appliances, cutting, tearing, sanding, drilling or sawing
insulation may release asbestos fibers.
Door gaskets in furnaces, wood stoves, and coal stoves. Worn
seals can release asbestos fibers during use.
Soundproofing or decorative materials sprayed on walls and
ceilings. Loose, crumbly, or water-damaged material may
release fibers. So will sanding, drilling or scraping the material.
Patching and joint compounds for walls and ceilings, and
textured paints. Sanding, scraping, or drilling these surfaces
may release asbestos.
Asbestos cement roofing, shingles, and siding, which are
unlikely to release asbestos fibers unless sawed, drilled or cut.
Artificial ashes and embers sold for use in gas-fired fireplaces.
Fireproof gloves, stove-top pads, ironing board covers, and
certain hairdryers.
Automobile brake pads and linings, clutch facings, and
gaskets. There are substitutes for these products today.
Removal of asbestos siding
What Should Be Done
About Asbestos In The Home?
Make sure the work site is clearly marked as a hazard area.
Do not allow household members and pets into the area until
work is completed.
Generally, material in good condition will not release asbestos
fibers. THERE IS NO DANGER unless the fibers are released
and inhaled into the lungs.
Insist that the contractor apply a wetting agent to the asbestos
material with a hand sprayer that creates a fine mist before
removal. Wet fibers do not float in the air as easily as dry
fibers and will be easier to clean up.
Check material regularly if you suspect it may contain asbestos.
Don't touch it, but look for signs of wear or damage such as tears,
abrasions, or water damage. Damaged material may release
asbestos fibers. This is particularly true if you often disturb it by
hitting, rubbing, or handling it, or if it is exposed to extreme
vibration or air flow.
Make sure the contractor does not break removed material
into small pieces. This could release asbestos fibers into the
air. Pipe insulation was usually installed in preformed blocks
and should be removed in complete pieces.
Upon completion, assure that the contractor cleans the area
well with wet mops, wet rags, sponges, or high efficiency
particulate air (HEPA) vacuum cleaners. A regular vacuum
cleaner must never be used. Wetting helps reduce the chance
of spreading asbestos fibers in the air. All asbestos materials
and disposable equipment and clothing used in the job must
be placed in sealed, leak-proof, and labeled plastic bags. The
work site should be visually free of dust and debris. Air
monitoring (to make sure there is no increase of asbestos
fibers in the air) may be necessary to assure that the
contractor's job is done
properly. This should be
done by a firm not
connected with the
If you think asbestos may be in your home, don't panic. Usually
the best thing is to LEAVE asbestos material that is in good
condition ALONE.
Sometimes the best way to deal with slightly damaged material is
to limit access to the area and not touch or disturb it. Discard
damaged or worn asbestos gloves, stove-top pads, or ironing
board covers.
If asbestos material is more than slightly damaged, or if you are
going to make changes in your home that might disturb it, repair
or removal by a professional is needed. Before you have your
house remodeled, find out whether asbestos materials are present.
How To Identify Asbestos
You can't tell whether a material contains asbestos simply by
looking at it, unless it is labeled. If in doubt, treat the material as
if it contains asbestos or have it sampled and analyzed by a
qualified professional. A professional should take samples for
analysis, since a professional knows what to look for, and
because there may be an increased health risk if fibers are
released. In fact, if done incorrectly, sampling can be more
hazardous than leaving the material alone. Taking samples
yourself is not recommended. Material that is in good condition
and will not be disturbed (by remodeling, for example) should be
left alone. Only material that is damaged or will be disturbed
should be sampled.
Removing asbestos ceiling coating
A list of Arkansas-licensed asbestos consultants who employ
certified inspectors can be found through the Arkansas
Department of Environmental Quality (ADEQ),
501.682.0718. (See internet link at end of this booklet.)
If You Hire An Asbestos
Abatement Contractor
A list of Arkansas-licensed asbestos contractors can be found
through the Arkansas Department of Environmental Quality,
501.682.0718. (See internet link at end of this booklet.)
Check with the Occupational Health and Safety
Administration of the U.S. Department of Labor, Little Rock
Office, 501.224.1841, which is responsible for worker safety,
and the local Better Business Bureau. Ask if the firm has had
any safety violations. Find out if there are legal actions filed
against it. (An internet link to OSHA can be found at the end
of this booklet.)
Insist that the contractor use the proper equipment to do the
job. The workers must wear approved respirators, gloves, and
other protective clothing.
Before work begins, get a written contract specifying the
work plan, cleanup, and the applicable federal, state, and local
regulations which the contractor must follow (such as
notification requirements and asbestos disposal procedures).
Contact the Arkansas Department of Environmental Quality
for Arkansas asbestos regulations.
Be sure the contractor follows asbestos removal and disposal
laws. At the end of the job, get written assurance from the
contractor that all procedures have been followed.
Assure that the contractor avoids spreading or tracking
asbestos dust into other areas of your home. They should seal
the work area from the rest of the house using plastic sheeting
and duct tape, and turn off the heating and air conditioning
system. For some repairs, such as pipe insulation removal,
plastic glove bags may be adequate. They must be sealed with
tape and properly disposed of when the job is complete.
Asbestos insulation on hot water pipes
Taking Your Own Samples
If you nevertheless choose to take the asbestos samples yourself,
take care not to release asbestos fibers into the air or onto
yourself. Anyone who samples asbestos-containing materials
should have as much information as possible on the handling of
asbestos before sampling, and at a minimum, should observe the
following procedures:
Make sure no one else is in the room when sampling is done.
Wear disposable gloves or wash hands after sampling.
Shut down any heating or cooling systems to minimize the
spread of any released fibers.
Do not disturb the material any more than is needed.
Place a plastic sheet on the floor below the area to be sampled.
Wet the material using a fine mist of water containing a few
drops of detergent before taking the sample. The water/
detergent mist will reduce the release of asbestos fibers.
Carefully cut a piece from the
entire depth of the material
using, for example, a small knife,
corer or other sharp object. Place
the small piece into a clean
container (for example, a 35 mm
film canister, small glass, plastic
vial, or high quality re-sealable
plastic bag.)
Tightly seal the container after
inserting the sample.
Carefully dispose of the plastic
sheet. Use a damp paper towel
Suspected asbestos insulation
to clean up any material on the
outside of the container or around the area sampled. Dispose of
asbestos materials according to state and local procedures.
Label the container with an identification number and clearly
state when and where the sample was taken.
Patch the sampled area with a piece of duct tape to prevent
Send the sample to an EPA-approved laboratory for analysis.
The National Institute for Standards and Technology (NIST)
has a list of these laboratories. You can get this list from the
National Voluntary Laboratory Accreditation Program,
NVLAP, NIST. To contact the NVLAP staff, you may call
301.975.4016, send a facsimile to 301.926.2884 , mail a staff
member at 100 Bureau Drive; M/S 2140; Gaithersburg, MD
20899-2140, or email NVLAP at [email protected] The web site is
There is one NVLAP lab in Arkansas, Environmental
Enterprise Group, Russellville, AR, 479.968.6767, or
Environmental Quality, 501.682.0718. (An internet link to the
list may be found at the end of this booklet.)
Asbestos-containing automobile brake pads and linings, clutch
facings, and gaskets should be repaired and replaced only by
professionals using special protective equipment. Many of these
products are now available without asbestos.
Read U.S. EPA’s publication, Current Best Practices for
Preventing Asbestos Disease Among Brake and Clutch Repair
Workers. (See internet link.)
If You Hire A Professional
Asbestos Inspector
Make sure that the inspection will include a complete visual
examination and the careful collection and lab analysis of
samples. If asbestos is present, the inspector should provide a
written evaluation describing its location and extent of
damage, and give recommendations for correction, abatement
or risk prevention.
Make sure an inspecting firm makes frequent site visits if it is
hired to assure that a contractor follows proper procedures
and requirements. The inspector may recommend and perform
checks after the abatement work to assure the area has been
properly cleaned.
How To Manage An Asbestos Problem
If the asbestos material is in good shape and will not be disturbed,
do nothing! If it is a problem, there are two types of corrections:
repair and removal.
Preparing for asbestos work on a furnace
Some firms offer combinations of inspection, consulting, testing,
assessment, abatement and correction. A professional hired to
assess the need for abatement or corrective action should not be
connected with an asbestos-abatement firm. It is better to use
two different firms so there is no conflict of interest. Services
vary from one area to another around the country.
The federal government sets standards for asbestos
professionals. The Arkansas Department of Environmental
Quality follows these standards. Each person performing
asbestos work in your home should provide proof of their
certification in asbestos work and their company’s licensing as
an asbestos firm. The Arkansas Department of Environmental
Quality has lists of certified workers and licensed companies.
If you have a problem that requires the services of asbestos
professionals, check their credentials carefully. Hire
professionals who are trained, experienced, and reputable. Before
hiring a professional, ask for references from previous clients.
Find out if they were satisfied. Ask whether the professional has
handled similar situations. Get cost estimates from several
professionals, as charges for services can vary.
Though private homes are usually not covered by the asbestos
regulations that apply to schools and public buildings,
professionals should still use procedures described during stateapproved training. Homeowners should be alert to the chance of
misleading claims by asbestos consultants and contractors. There
have been reports of firms incorrectly claiming that asbestos
materials in homes must be replaced. In other cases, firms have
encouraged unnecessary removals or performed them
improperly. Unnecessary removals are a waste of money.
Improper removals may actually increase the health risks to you
and your family. To guard against this, know what services are
available and what procedures and precautions are needed to do
the job properly.
In addition to general asbestos contractors, you may select a
roofing, flooring, or plumbing contractor licensed to handle
asbestos. A list of Arkansas-licensed asbestos contractors and
consultants can be found through the Arkansas Department of
Repair usually involves either sealing or covering asbestos material.
Sealing (encapsulation) involves treating the material with a
sealant that either binds the asbestos fibers together or coats
the material so fibers are not released. Pipe, furnace and
boiler insulation can sometimes be repaired this way. This
should be done only by a professional trained to handle
asbestos safely.
Covering (enclosure) involves placing something over or
around the material that contains asbestos to prevent release
of fibers. Exposed insulated piping may be covered with a
protective wrap or jacket.
With any type of repair, the asbestos remains in place. Repair
is usually cheaper than removal, but it may make later removal
of asbestos, if necessary, more difficult and costly. Repairs can
either be major or minor.
Asbestos Do's And Don'ts
for the Homeowner
Do keep activities to a minimum in any areas having
damaged material that may contain asbestos.
Do take every precaution to avoid damaging asbestos.
Do have removal and major repair done by people trained
and qualified in handling asbestos. It is highly recommended
that sampling and minor repair be done by professionals.
Don't dust, sweep, or vacuum debris suspected of asbestos.
Don't saw, sand, scrape, or drill holes in asbestos materials.
Don't use abrasive pads or brushes on power strippers to
strip wax from asbestos flooring. Never use a power stripper
on a dry floor.
Don't sand or try to level asbestos flooring or its backing.
When asbestos flooring needs replacing, install new floor
covering over it, if possible.
Don't track material that could contain asbestos through the
house. If you cannot avoid walking through the area, have it
cleaned with a wet mop. If the material is from a damaged area,
or if a large area must be cleaned, call an asbestos professional.
Major repairs must be done only by a professional trained in
methods for safely handling asbestos.
Minor repairs should also be done by professionals since there is
always a risk of exposure to fibers when asbestos is disturbed.
Doing minor repairs yourself is not recommended since improper
handling of asbestos materials can create a hazard where no
hazard existed.
If you nevertheless choose to do minor repairs, you should have
as much information as possible on the handling of asbestos
before doing anything. Contact the Arkansas Department of
Environmental Quality Air Division Asbestos Section for
information about asbestos training programs. Your local school
district may also have information about asbestos professionals
and training programs for school buildings. Even if you have
completed a training course, do not try anything more than minor
repairs. Before undertaking minor repairs, carefully examine the
area around the damage to make sure it is stable. As a general
matter, any damaged area which is bigger than the size of your
hand is not a minor repair.
Minor Repairs
Before undertaking minor repairs, be sure to follow all the
precautions described in these information sheets for sampling
asbestos material. Always wet the asbestos material using a fine
mist of water containing a few drops of detergent. Commercial
products designed to fill holes and seal damaged areas are
available. Small areas of material such as pipe insulation can be
covered by wrapping a special fabric, such as rewetable glass
cloth, around it. These products are available from stores (listed
in the telephone directory under “Safety Equipment and
Clothing) that specialize in safety items.
Asbestos abatement is usually the most expensive method and,
unless required by state or local regulations, should be the last
option considered in most situations. This is because removal
poses the greatest risk of fiber release. However, removal may
be required when remodeling or making major changes to your
home that will disturb asbestos material. Also, removal may be
called for if asbestos material is damaged extensively and
cannot be otherwise repaired. Removal is complex and must be
done only by a contractor with special training. Improper
removal may increase health risks to you and your family.
Asbestos Professionals:
Who Are They and What Can They Do?
Asbestos professionals are trained in handling asbestos material.
The type of professional will depend on the type of product and
what needs to be done to correct the problem. You may hire a
general asbestos contractor or, in some cases, a professional
firm trained to handle specific products containing asbestos.
Suspected asbestos floor tile in good condition
Asbestos professionals can conduct home inspections, take
samples of suspected material, assess its condition, and advise
what corrections are needed and who is qualified to make these
corrections. Material in good condition need not be sampled
unless it is likely to be disturbed. Professional correction or
abatement contractors repair or remove asbestos materials.
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