In more than 25 years of research into the relationship between airborne asbestos fibers and the diseases such exposure can cause, the bodily mechanism by which inhaled asbestos fibers initiate cancer or asbestosis is still not understood, no effective treatment has been found, and the only means of preventing asbestos disease depends entirely on limiting the exposure of the individual to asbestos fibers.
The purpose of this procedure is to establish the means of control and minimization of public and ACC employee and student exposure to airborne asbestos fibers, a known carcinogen and dangerous health hazard.
The Texas Administrative Code, Title 25, Part I Chapter 295, Sub-chapter C 295.31 and 40 CFR Part 61, Subpart M and 40 CFR Part 763, Subpart E, and Appendices A, B, C, and D (OSHA regulations are incorporated by reference) regulates asbestos disturbance activities in buildings that afford public access or occupancy and in commercial buildings and apply to all owners of buildings which are subject to public occupancy, or to which the general public has access, and to all persons disturbing, removing, encapsulating, or enclosing asbestos within public buildings for any purpose, including repair, renovation, dismantling, demolition, installations, or maintenance operations, or any other activity that may involve the disturbance or removal of asbestos-containing material (ACM) whether intentional or unintentional. Also included are the qualifications for licensure of persons, and requirements for compliance with these sections and all applicable standards of the United States Environmental Protection Agency and the United States Occupational Safety and Health Administration as adopted.
This outlines the Austin Community College Asbestos Management Program. Austin Community College follows a practice that is endorsed by the U.S. EPA known as: Management of Asbestos in Place.
The asbestos program covers the identification, maintenance, and removal of regulated Asbestos Containing Materials (ACM) and Presumed Asbestos Containing Materials (PACM) in ACC Facilities.
There is no thorough inventory of all suspected asbestos containing materials in the buildings and facilities at ACC. Assume that all building materials are asbestos containing unless informed by a representative of Environmental Health Safety and Insurance Office or you have been provided a copy of test results proving the suspect materials that are to be disturbed do not contain asbestos.
Proper identification of ACM or PACM must be made by an Asbestos Building Inspector that is accredited by the State of Texas. If for any reason these materials must be disturbed they must be tested for asbestos content.
All maintenance personnel, janitorial staff and contractors doing work at the College that may come in contact with suspect asbestos containing materials, must be informed of the College’s posture regarding asbestos. This includes identification of known ACM locations and procedures to use to avoid disturbing the material.
Executive Team/ Administration:
Deans / Unit Directors / Program Coordinators:
Environmental Health Safety and Insurance Office
Maintenance and Custodial Supervisors
Maintenance and Custodial Personnel
Project Managers and Coordinators
ACM - Any material that is greater than 1% asbestos.
Competent person - One who is capable of identifying existing asbestos hazards in the workplace and selecting the appropriate control strategy for asbestos exposure and who has the authority to take prompt corrective measures to eliminate them.
Asbestos Containing Materials (ACM) were used widely as construction and insulating materials in buildings from the 1940s through the late 1970s. In many older buildings asbestos is still present in the form of pipe, duct, and boiler insulation and in other materials such as floor tiles. ACM's are regulated by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the Occupational Safety & Health Administration (OSHA). In terms of environmental protection, while asbestos is a serious health and safety concern, currently available data and risks assessments indicate that properly managed, undamaged ACM in buildings do not present a significant health risk to building occupants; therefore, the focus is to provide comprehensive and effective management rather than total removal. Effective management of ACM may include the following approaches, depending on the nature of the material, its condition, and potential for exposure. ACM that is in a safe condition and does not present a danger to building occupants may be left in place and periodically inspected to ensure it remains in a safe condition. For ACM that presents a potential exposure concern one or more of the following actions may be appropriate: removal and secure disposal by certified subcontract personnel; enclosure or encapsulation; restricted access and isolation.
Most health information on asbestos exposure has been derived from studies of workers who have been exposed to asbestos in the course of their occupation. Asbestos fiber concentrations for these workers were many times higher than those encountered by the general public. Because asbestos fibers are naturally occurring and extremely aerodynamic, virtually everyone is exposed to asbestos. To be a significant health concern, asbestos fibers must be inhaled at high concentrations over an extended period of time. Asbestos fibers then accumulate in the lungs. As exposure increases, the risk of disease also increases. Therefore, measures to minimize exposure and consequently minimize accumulation of fibers will reduce the risk of adverse health effects.
As asbestos fibers accumulate in the lungs, several types of diseases may occur. Asbestosis is a scarring of the lung tissue. This scarring impairs the elasticity of the lung and hampers its ability to exchange gases. This leads to inadequate oxygen intake to the blood. Asbestosis restricts breathing, leading to decreased lung volume and increased resistance in the airways. It is a slowly progressive disease with a latency period of 15 to 30 years.
The next type of disease attributed to asbestos exposure is Mesothelioma. It is a cancer of the pleural lining. It is considered to be exclusively related to asbestos exposure. By the time it is diagnosed, it is almost always fatal. Similar to other asbestos related diseases, mesothelioma has a longer latency period of 30 to 40 years.
Lung Cancer is a malignant tumor of the bronchi covering. The tumor grows through surrounding tissue, invading and often obstructing air passages. The time between exposure to asbestos and the occurrence of lung cancer is 20 to 30 years. It should be noted that there is a synergistic effect between smoking and asbestos exposure, which creates an extreme susceptibility to lung cancer.
These guidelines have been prepared to assist maintenance and custodial personnel in implementing safe procedures in buildings containing asbestos. If you follow the guidelines presented here, you will avoid asbestos exposure and protect your health and the health of other people using the building.
All maintenance and custodial staff who perform duties that do not involve the removal or disturbance of Asbestos Containing Material shall receive training on an annual basis. The training will include:
The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) recommends that custodial/maintenance staff consider the following basic guidelines when stripping wax or finish coat from asbestos-containing floor coverings:
Asbestos is the name applied to a group of naturally occurring minerals that are mined from the earth.
The six different types of regulated asbestos are:
Of these six, three are used more commonly. Chrysotile is the most common, but it is not unusual to encounter Amosite, or Crocidolite as well. In many instances a single product will have a mixture of different asbestos types.
All types of asbestos can break into very tiny fibers. These individual fibers can be broken down so small that they can only be identified using an electron microscope. Some individual fibers may be up to 700 times smaller than the diameter of a human hair. Because asbestos fibers are so small, once released into the air, they may stay suspended there for hours or even days.
Asbestos fibers are also virtually indestructible. They are resistant to chemicals and heat, and they are very stable in the environment. They do not evaporate into air or dissolve in water, and they are not broken down over time. Asbestos is probably the best insulator known to man. Because asbestos has so many useful properties, it has been used in over 3,000 different products.
Usually asbestos is mixed with other materials to form the products. Floor tiles, for example, may contain only a small percentage of asbestos. Depending on what the product is, the amount of asbestos in asbestos containing materials (ACM) may vary from less than 1% to 100%.
Asbestos may be found in many different products and many different places. Examples of products that might contain asbestos are:
The most common way for asbestos fibers to enter the body is through breathing. In fact, asbestos containing material is not generally considered to be harmful unless it is releasing dust or fibers into the air where they can be inhaled or ingested. Many of the fibers will become trapped in the mucous membranes of the nose and throat where they can then be removed, but some may pass deep into the lungs, or, if swallowed, into the digestive tract. Once they are trapped in the body, the fibers can cause health problems.
Asbestos is most hazardous when it is friable. The term "friable" means that the asbestos is easily crumbled by hand, releasing fibers into the air. Sprayed on asbestos insulation is highly friable. Asbestos floor tile generally is not.
Asbestos-containing ceiling tiles, floor tiles, undamaged laboratory cabinet tops, shingles, fire doors, siding shingles, etc. will not release asbestos fibers unless they are disturbed or damaged in some way. If an asbestos ceiling tile is drilled or broken, for example, it may release fibers into the air. If it is left alone and not disturbed, it generally will not.
Asbestos pipe and boiler insulation does not present a hazard unless the protective canvas covering is cut or damaged in such a way that the asbestos underneath is actually exposed to the air.
Damage and deterioration will increase the friability of asbestos-containing materials. Water damage, continual vibration, aging, and physical impact such as drilling, grinding, buffing, cutting, sawing, or striking can break the materials down making fiber release more likely.
In order to avoid being exposed to asbestos, you must be aware of the locations it is likely to be found. If you do not know whether something is asbestos or not, assume that it is until it is verified otherwise. Remember that you cannot tell if floor or ceiling tiles contain asbestos just by looking at them.
The ACC Environmental Health Safety and Insurance Office will arrange for samples to be taken from materials in order to determine whether or not they contain asbestos. If you need to have materials analyzed or tested for asbestos, please contact the ACC EHS and Insurance Office. Never try to take a sample yourself unless you are licensed to do so.
If you do not know that a building material is asbestos free DO NOT DISTURB IT.
Housekeepers and custodians should never sand or dry buff asbestos containing floor tiles, and only wet stripping methods may be used during stripping operations. Low abrasion pads should be used at speeds below 300 rpm.
Broken and fallen ceiling tiles should be left in place until identified. Only after they have been identified as asbestos free may they be removed. Asbestos tiles will be removed by asbestos abatement workers.
Broken and damaged asbestos floor tiles must also be removed by asbestos abatement workers.
By knowing where asbestos is likely to be located and then taking measures not to disturb it, you will protect yourself and others from exposure to this hazardous substance.
To put the potential hazard and risk of asbestos exposure in proper perspective, the EPA published the following five facts, which they hope will help calm the unwarranted fears that a number of people seem to have about the mere presence of asbestos in buildings.
Fact One: Although asbestos is hazardous, the risk of asbestos-related disease depends upon exposure to airborne asbestos. In other words, an individual must breathe asbestos fibers in order to incur any chance of developing an asbestos-related disease. How many fibers a person must breathe to develop disease is uncertain. However, at very low exposure levels, the risk may be negligible or zero.
Fact Two: Based on available data, the average airborne asbestos levels in buildings seem to be very low. Accordingly, the health risk to most building occupants also appears to be very low.
Fact Three: Removal is often not a building owner's best course of action to reduce asbestos exposure. In fact, an improper removal can create a dangerous situation where none previously existed. By their nature, asbestos removals tend to elevate the airborne level of asbestos fibers. Unless safeguards are properly applied, a removal operation can actually increase rather than decrease the risk of asbestos related disease.
Fact Four: EPA only requires asbestos removal in order to prevent significant public exposure to airborne asbestos fibers during building demolition or renovation projects.
Fact Five: EPA and OSHA recommend a proactive, in-place management program whenever asbestos-containing material is discovered. Management of asbestos in-place means having a program to ensure that the day-to-day management of the building minimizes release of asbestos fibers into the air, and ensures that if asbestos fibers are released, either accidentally or intentionally, proper control and cleanup procedures are implemented.
Source: U.S. Environmental Protection Agency: Managing Asbestos in Place--A Building Owner's Guide to Operations and Maintenance Programs for Asbestos-Containing Materials, 20T-2003, July 1990.