Asbestos is a naturally occurring fibrous mineral found in certain types of rock formations. Of that general group, the minerals chrysotile, amosite and crocidolite have been most commonly used in building products.
Because of its strength and fireproofing abilities, asbestos became a popular commercial product beginning in the early l900's. Asbestos is a carcinogenic substance and causes cancer, mesthelioma and asbestosis. Due to these highly imposed health risks, the EPA banned the use of asbestos for fireproofing and insulating buildings in l973. Further down the road in l978, the EPA banned the use of asbestos for decorative purposes.
Asbestos in buildings has been commonly used for thermal insulation, fireproofing and in various building materials such as floor coverings and ceiling tile, cement pipes and sheeting, granular and corrugated paper pipe wrap and acoustical and decorative treatment for ceilings and walls. Typically, it is found in pipe and boiler insulation and in spray-applied uses such as fireproofing or sound-deadening applications.
ASBESTOS CAN BE DANGEROUS
Intact and undisturbed asbestos materials do not pose a health risk. The mere presence of asbestos in a building does not mean that the health of building occupants is endangered. Asbestos containing material which is in good condition and is not somehow damaged or disturbed is not likely to release asbestos fibers into the air. When asbestos containing material is properly managed, the release of asbestos fibers into the air is prevented or minimized and the risk of asbestos-related disease can be reduced to a negligible level.
However, asbestos materials can become hazardous when due to damge, disturbance or deterioration over time, they release fibers into building air becoming airborne. Under these conditions, when asbestos containing material is damaged or disturbed for example, by maintenance repairs conducted without proper controls, elevated airborne asbestos concentrations can create a potential hazard for workers and other building occupants.