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Asbestos

OSHA Compliance - General Industry OSHA standard 1910.1001

The regulation mentioned above requires that all university employees working in buildings constructed prior to 1988 are informed about the presence of asbestos-containing materials (ACM) and/or presumed asbestos-containing materials (PACM). These materials exist in the form of fireproofing, thermal system insulation, acoustical ceiling plasters, floor tile and mastics, and many others. All buildings constructed prior to 1988 (including, but not limited to: Alderman Library, Cabell Hall, Chemistry Building, Gilmer Hall, Heating Plant, Jordan Hall, Hospital West, Physics Building, Ruffner Hall, and Zehmer Hall) may contain ACM.

Environmental Health and Safety (EHS) maintains records of all past ACM inspections within UVa buildings, and all past abatement /repair activities. To prevent accidental disturbance of ACM, EHS performs surveys prior to maintenance, renovation, and demolition projects to determine the presence of these materials. If ACM abatement or repairs are necessary, EHS designs and monitors these activities as well.

UVa Policy: Asbestos-Containing Materials Management

UVa's Asbestos-Containing Materials Management Policy includes the following:

  • Identification and continuing surveillance of all friable (easily crumbled or disturbed by hand pressure) ACM within UVa buildings
  • Identification of all non-friable ACM prior to renovation or demolition activities
  • Mechanism for initiating repair of damaged ACM as part of routine building maintenance
  • Insuring proper removal and disposal, or encapsulation of ACM prior to renovation/demolition activities
  • Abatement project design, daily inspections and air monitoring by trained professionals

UVa Asbestos Glove Collection Program

Environmental Health and Safety’s free asbestos glove collection program. Although asbestos is no longer used in the manufacturing of newer heat-resistant gloves, some research labs still use a few of the older gloves, which can contain asbestos in concentrations up to 90% in the outer layer. We are offering to visit your lab to evaluate the inventory of gloves, identify the ones which contain asbestos, and properly dispose of the asbestos-containing gloves. We cannot reimburse you for the gloves, but we can suggest vendors that provide non-asbestos heat-resistant replacement gloves.

Contact EHS at 434-982-4912 if you have any questions regarding this program.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

  1. What is asbestos? Asbestos is a naturally occurring mineral and deposits of asbestos are found throughout the world, including the United States. It is commercially mined, mainly in Canada and South Africa. It is distinguished from other minerals in that its crystals form long, thin fibers. What appears as a fiber is actually an agglomeration of hundreds or thousands of fibers, each of which can be divided into microscopic fibrils. Once mined, the asbestos rocks are crushed and milled and the resulting fibers are used in various products.
  2. In what types of products can asbestos be found? Because of its unique properties – heat and fire resistance, high tensile strength, poor electrical conductivity, and chemical resistance – asbestos proved well suited for many uses in construction. It has been used in literally thousands of products. A partial list includes fireproofing, pipe insulation, floor tile, sheet flooring, ceiling tiles, acoustical plaster, fume hood panels, laboratory countertops, transite siding shingles, roofing materials, brake shoes, gaskets, and construction mastics.
  3. How can you tell if something contains asbestos? The only way to determine if a material contains asbestos is to have it analyzed by a microscope, usually a Polarized Light Microscope. The material needs to be taken to an accredited laboratory to officially determine the asbestos content. The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has defined an asbestos-containing material (ACM) as a material “containing more than 1% asbestos”.
  4. Why is asbestos harmful? When asbestos fibers become airborne, they can be inhaled and can become lodged in lung tissue. When this occurs, large cells (called macrophages) attempt to engulf the particles and eliminate them from the body. However, the macrophages are often not able to digest the fibers, resulting in scarring of the lung tissue. This condition is known as asbestosis. Asbestosis is not a cancer, but makes it very difficult to breathe. Asbestos exposure has also been linked to cancer. When asbestos fibers become lodged in the mesothelial cells, which line the chest and abdomen, it can cause a cancer called mesothelioma. Asbestos exposure has also been shown to cause lung cancer. People who smoke and are exposed to asbestos greatly increase the risk of developing lung cancer. Ingestion of asbestos fibers has also been linked to gastrointestinal cancers.
  5. Is there a safe level of asbestos exposure? The vast majority of people who have developed an asbestos related disease have experienced what is described as an “occupational exposure”, where they have breathed millions of fibers per day for many months or years, due to the requirements of their job. But there have been documented cases of persons developing disease from a minimal exposure. For this reason, it is generally held that there is no safe level of asbestos exposure. Additionally, asbestos exposure is often difficult to recognize, because there are no acute symptoms. The typical latency period (the amount of time between exposure and onset of symptoms) is 20-40 years.
  6. Is it safe to be near an asbestos abatement project? There are numerous regulations, guidelines, and specifications which govern how an abatement project is performed. All abatement workers must be trained, as well as the monitors who inspect the removal process. The asbestos is normally removed from within a plastic containment, which is placed under negative pressure with HEPA filtered negative air machines. Air sampling is required for most abatement activities and “clearance” samples are taken inside the abatement containment before the containment is removed. Exterior area samples are also taken near the containment during the removal activities to confirm the air surrounding the containment is safe. So, yes, because of these stringent abatement requirements, it is safe to work adjacent to an asbestos abatement project.
  7. Who can I contact for more information about asbestos? At UVa, Environmental Health and Safety maintains records of all past asbestos inspections within UVa buildings, as well as daily reports and air sample analyses of past abatement activities. These records are maintained and updated by accredited Asbestos Project Designers, Inspectors, Management Planners, and Monitors. Contact EHS at 434-982-4912 for more information.