Asbestos Facts

Asbestos is a family of naturally occurring minerals, found in serpentinite and other metamorphic rock.

Because of its strength and resistance to heat, asbestos was used for insulation, heat resistant clothing, roofing and fire proofing. It was also used as an additive to ease the manufacture and application of ceiling and wall finishes, tape joint compounds, floor tiles and mastics.

Since many building materials can contain asbestos, remodel and repair activity in residential and commercial structures which disturbs asbestos-containing materials may cause the release of asbestos fibers into the air.

Inhaling airborne asbestos fibers (whether you can see them or not) can increase the risk of developing certain lung diseases, including lung cancer, mesothelioma and asbestosis.

In the United States there are many regulations protecting children, employees, tenants, workers and others from exposure to asbestos. These include AHERA (schools), OSHA (workers), ASHARA (public buildings) and NESHAPS (emissions).

Types of Asbestos

There are two types of asbestos containing material:

Friable Asbestos-Containing Materials - contain over 1% asbestos and can be crumbled, crushed or reduced to powder by hand pressure when dry. Common examples of friable asbestos-containing materials are spray acoustic ceilings, acoustic tiles, plaster, pipe and duct wrap, and paper backing of linoleum.

Non-friable Asbestos-Containing Materials - are typically bound up with cement, vinyl, asphalt or some other type of hard binder. Some examples of non-friable asbestos building materials are cement/transite siding, vinyl floor tiles and stucco. Non-friable asbestos-containing materials may become friable if it is crushed, crumbled, pulverized, or subjected to sanding, drilling, cutting or abrading.