Pat Quinn, Governor
How Do I Manage Asbestos In My Building?
Information presented in this publication is intended to provide a general understanding of the statutory and regulatory requirements governing managing asbestos. This information is not intended to replace, limit or expand upon the complete statutory and regulatory requirements found in the Illinois Environmental Protection Act and Title 35 of the Illinois Administrative Code.
This fact sheet does not apply to privately owned homes and apartments with four or less units.
What is asbestos?
Asbestos is a naturally occurring mineral found in certain rocks. This mineral separates into strong, thin fibers that are invisible to the naked eye. Asbestos was commonly used in building materials before the mid-1970s and occasionally until the late 1980s because it is strong, fire- and corrosion-resistant, and a good insulator. Common uses of asbestos include the following:
If the materials discussed above contain more than one percent asbestos as determined using polarized light microscopy (PLM), they are considered asbestos-containing materials (ACM). ACM can be friable or nonfriable. When dry, friable ACM can be crumbled or reduced to a powder by hand pressure and presents greater health risks to human health than nonfriable ACM. When dry, nonfriable ACM cannot be crumbled or reduced to a powder by hand pressure.
When is ACM a problem?
If ACM is in good condition and left in place, it should not present health risks. However, if the ACM has been damaged or is crumbling, or if a building is to be demolished, renovated, or remodeled, care must be taken to prevent the release of asbestos fibers into the air. Inhalation of microscopic asbestos fibers from friable ACM can cause health risks. Once inhaled, asbestos fibers can become lodged in tissue for a long time and can cause cancer.
Asbestos can also cause asbestos-related diseases or problems such as asbestosis, a progressive, disabling and potentially fatal disease; mesotheliona, a rare cancer of the mesothelium, the thin tissue layer that lines body cavities and surrounds internal organs; and pleural plaques, scar tissue in the chest cavity. The number of fibers a person must inhale to develop asbestos-related disease is not known. At very low exposure levels (such as being in the same room as a cracked tile containing asbestos), the risks can be negligible. However, during demolition, renovation and removal activities, risks from exposure greatly increase. Also, smoking greatly increases the risk of asbestos-related lung cancer. Almost all known cases of asbestos-related lung cancer occurred among people who smoked and were exposed to asbestos.
Because asbestos presents a significant risk to human health when released to air, asbestos is considered a hazardous air pollutant regulated under the National Emission Standards for Hazardous Air Pollutants (NESHAP) regulations.
What are NESHAP regulations?
NESHAP regulations are Federal regulations under the Clean Air Act (CAA) that apply to the facility owners and contractors who perform work in public and commercial buildings. Asbestos NESHAP regulations address common small business activities such as milling, manufacturing and fabricating operations, demolition and renovation activities, waste disposal issues, active and inactive waste disposal sites, and asbestos conversion processes. A privately owned home or an apartment with four or less units is exempt from the regulations unless the building has either had previous use or future planned use as a commercial or public facility. For privately owned homes and apartments with four or less units, please refer to the fact sheet titled "How Do I Manage Asbestos In My House Or Apartment Building?"
How do I comply with NESHAP?
Prior to any renovation or demolition activities, you must first inspect your facility or the affected portion of your facility for the presence of regulated ACM. Certain types of asbestos are regulated differently under NESHAP regulations. Specifically, regulated ACM is: 1) friable ACM; 2) Category I nonfriable ACM that is in poor condition has become friable; 3) Category I nonfriable ACM that will be or has been subjected to sanding, grinding, cutting or abrading, or 4) Category II nonfriable ACM that has a high probability of becoming or has become crumbled, pulverized, or reduced to powder in the course of demolition or renovation operations. Category I nonfriable ACM consists of any asbestos-containing packing, gasket, resilient floor covering, or asphalt roofing product that contains more than 1 percent asbestos as determined using PLM.
Category II nonfriable ACM consists of any material except for Category I nonfriable ACM that contains more than one percent asbestos as determined using PLM and that when dry, cannot be crumbled, pulverized, or reduced to powder by hand pressure.
Friable regulated ACM is present in many public and commercial buildings, apartment buildings and factories built before the mid-1970s and in some buildings built after the mid-1970s. If you are not sure if regulated ACM is present at your facility, hire a licensed asbestos inspector who may obtain samples for laboratory analysis. Call the Illinois Department of Public Health at (217) 782-3517 for a list of licensed asbestos inspectors.
If an inspector has determined that regulated ACM removal is necessary, a notice of the removal must be delivered or postmarked to the Illinois Environmental Protection Agency (Illinois EPA) at least 10 working days prior to the commencement of demolition or renovation if the amount of regulated ACM to be removed exceeds 160 square feet, 260 linear feet, or 1 cubic meter. This notification of demolition and renovation form can be obtained by calling the Illinois EPA Office of Small Business.
Although you will hire a licensed contractor to conduct regulated ACM removal work, you should be aware of the requirements below for contractors during removal activities.
What other regulations apply to asbestos?
In addition to NESHAP requirements, other regulatory standards apply to asbestos. The first two items listed below apply to regulated ACM removal contractors, and the remaining items apply to the facility owner.
How do I obtain more information?
For more information on ACM, please call the Illinois EPA Office of Small Business Helpline toll-free at (888) EPA-1996 or the DCCA Small Business Environmental Assistance Helpline at (800) 252-3998. All calls are considered confidential and the caller can remain anonymous.
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