Asbestos Fact Sheet

According to the Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection’s (MassDEP’s) website:(

What is Asbestos? Is it hazardous to your health?

Asbestos is a naturally occurring, mostly fibrous mineral and may consist of any one of a number of silicates. Asbestos is used in a variety of products because of its physical properties, which make it resistant to heat, fire, and many caustic chemicals. Asbestos has been used extensively as fireproofing, an insulating agent, and for decorative purposes, among many other uses.

The physical properties that give asbestos its resistance to heat and decay are linked with several adverse human effects. Asbestos tends to break into a dust of microscopic fibers. Because of their size and shape, these tiny fibers can remain suspended in the air for long periods of time and can easily penetrate bodily tissue when inhaled. Because of their durability, these fibers can remain in the body for many years.

Asbestos is known to cause asbestosis and various forms of cancer. Asbestosis is a chronic disease of the lungs which makes breathing progressively more difficult, and can lead to death. Cancer can result from breathing asbestos fibers and lung cancer is the most frequent. Mesothelioma, an incurable cancer of the chest and abdominal membranes, almost never occurs without exposure to asbestos. Asbestos related diseases have a long latency period and do not show up until 10 to 40 years after exposure. Each exposure increases the likelihood of developing an asbestos-related disease.

Material containing 1% asbestos fibers or more by weight is regulated. For this guide the term asbestos includes asbestos containing material and waste materials contaminated with asbestos.

All Building Materials “MUST” be sampled for Asbestos Prior to Removal, Renovation or Demolition Activity?

All residential, commercial and institutional buildings are subject to Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection (MassDEP) asbestos regulations at 310 CMR 7.15. Therefore, owners and/or operators (e.g. building owners, renovation and demolition contractors, plumbing and heating contractors, flooring contractors, etc.) need to determine all asbestos containing materials (both non-friable and friable) that are present at the site and whether or not those materials will be impacted by the proposed work prior to conducting any renovation or demolition activity.

Examples of commonly found asbestos containing materials include, but are not limited to, heating system insulation, floor tiles and vinyl sheet flooring, mastics, wallboard, joint compound, decorative plasters, asbestos containing siding and roofing products and fireproofing.

Failure to identify and remove all asbestos containing material prior to its being impacted by renovation or demolition activities can result in significant penalty exposure, and higher clean-up, decontamination, disposal and monitoring cost.

Notification & Fees

There is a single notification form to file for MassDEP and DOS. DEP requires notification for any asbestos handling project including demolition and disposal at least ten (10) working days prior to conducting any asbestos removal work. DOS requires notification for any asbestos handling project including demolition and disposal at least ten (10) calendar days prior to conducting any asbestos removal work. In order to properly notify of an asbestos removal job, contact either DEP or DOS to receive a copy of the “Commonwealth of Massachusetts Asbestos Notification Guide” and form (ANF-001 also called BWP AQ-04) which may be used for notifying both agencies.

The notification fee required by MassDEP regulations 310 CMR 4.00 (Timely Action Schedule and Fee Provisions) for asbestos removal is $85 per notification. However, work on owner-occupied residential properties with four or fewer units, and work on behalf of cities, towns, counties, districts of the Commonwealth, municipal housing authorities, the MBTA and state agencies do not pay the fee. Public authorities and public entities not specifically listed as exempt by statute pay the fee. Owners of residential property being converted to non-residential use pay the fee. Commercial, industrial, institutional, and charitable entity owners pay the fee.

Asbestos removal notifications require a decal to be attached before filing. Notification decals may be purchased from the Commonwealth ($85), or received upon request for fee exempt work, and affixed to the Asbestos Notification Form ANF-001. Decals may be purchased by filling out and mailing the “Purchase Request” form attached to the “Asbestos Notification Guide.”

Additionally, under MassDEP regulations, most construction/demolition projects require a ten (10) working day notification prior to beginning the job regardless of whether the job involves asbestos. Notification must be made using MassDEP’s form BWP AQ-06. A notification fee ($85) or exempt decal must be affixed to the AQ-06 form. Residential buildings containing 1 to 20 units are not required to file a notification for construction/demolition work when no asbestos is involved. Residential buildings of any size must notify when asbestos is involved.

MassDEP Asbestos, Construction & Demolition Forms
Web site

Other Sources:
Asbestos was used in a wide variety of building materials and building components during the twentieth century. The widest use occurred from 1940 – 1975.

Among the building materials found to contain asbestos are:

  • Acoustical Texture
  • Fire-proofing
  • Plaster
  • Joint Compound
  • Wall Texture
  • Spackle
  • Attic And Wall Insulation
  • Resilient Flooring
  • Mastic
  • Recessed Lighting Fixtures
  • Wiring
  • Elevator Brakes
  • Fire Doors
  • Piping Insulation
  • Piping Joints
  • Gaskets
  • Valve Packing And Insulation
  • Exhaust Pipe
  • Exhaust Hoods
  • Lab Benches
  • Blackboards
  • Duct Insulation
  • Duct Tape
  • Boiler Blocking
  • Vibration Damping Cloth
  • Building Panels
  • Siding
  • Shingles
  • Roofing Felt
  • Roofing Tar
  • Textured Paint
  • Flashing
  • Water-proofing Putty
  • Window Caulking
  • Door Insulation
  • Stucco
  • Mortar
  • Concrete
  • Swimming pool plaster
  • Asbestos Cement Pipe, Shingles, Panels, Siding (Transite™)

Asbestos is hazardous when inhaled. When asbestos-containing materials deteriorate or are damaged, asbestos fibers are released into the air. Fibers that are inhaled can lodge and remain in the lungs, or migrate to other locations in the body. Asbestos fibers have been shown to cause asbestosis, lung cancer and mesothelioma. Especially at risk are 1) occupationally exposed workers (mainly in the construction industry), 2) children, who will retain any inhaled fibers for decades, and 3) occupationally exposed smokers, who experience a greatly enhanced risk of lung cancer.

The most likely building materials to release fibers are those that are most likely to be damaged (friable materials). Typical friable materials are fireproofing on beams, acoustical texture and ceiling tiles. Non-friable materials are not likely to release fibers unless heavily damaged (made friable). Typical non-friable materials include vinyl floor tile, asphaltic roofing, mastics and asbestos-cement (transite) materials.

Current federal regulations 1) ban most mechanical system insulation and spray applied products, but do not restrict the use of most of the above bulleted list in new buildings, 2) specify work practices for the disturbance of asbestos-containing material, and 3) require the identification of asbestos in schools (AHERA) and in commercial and public buildings that are to be remodeled or demolished by either assuming or presuming it’s presence or by sampling (OSHA, NESHAP). Exposure standards exist for the workplace (OSHA) and to clear abatements in schools (AHERA).

ASTM International has also published three standards for asbestos control, and may be accessed at


ACM: Asbestos containing material with greater than 1% asbestos. The current regulatory threshold in most cases.

AHERA: Asbestos Hazard Emergency Response Act (1986); legislation requiring the cataloging of asbestos containing building materials in schools. 40 CFR 763, Subpart E.

Asbestiform: tending to separate into fibers having length:width ratios from 10:1 to over 100:1.

Asbestos: any of a group of commercially mined minerals that tend to break into fibers. The regulated asbestos minerals are the serpentine mineral chrysotile and the asbestiform varieties of the amphibole minerals grunerite (amosite), riebeckite (crocidilite), tremolite, actinolite and anthophylitte. Amphibole minerals occure in both the regulated, asbestiform varieties and the non-regulated, non-asbestiform varieties. Asbestos fibers are resistant to high temperatures, have high tensile strength, and in some cases can be woven into cloth.

Asbestosis: a chronic fibrosis of the lungs caused by large exposures to asbestos, usually affecting miners, ship-builders and mill-workers.

EPA: Environmental Protection Agency; environmental issues government agency.

f/cc: fibers per cubic centimeter; reporting units for PCM analyses.

friable: able to be crumbled to powder by hand pressure when dry.

Mesothelioma: cancer of the lining of the lung or intestines.

NESHAP: National Emission Standard for Hazardous Air Pollutants.
40 CFR 61, Subpart M.

Non-asbestiform: tending to break into cleavage fragments having length:width ratios from 2:1 to 20:1.

OSHA: Occupational Safety & Health Administration; requires that workers be protected from asbestos exposure.
29 CFR 1926.1101, 29 CFR 1910.1001.

PCM: phase-contrast microscopy, an optical microscopy method used to perform fiber counts on air sample filters. Its disadvantages for asbestos analysis are that 1) it cannot resolve all asbestos fibers, and 2) it cannot distinguish asbestos fibers from other fibers.

PEL: permissible exposure limit; OSHA mandated maximum exposure level for workers without respiratory protection (8 hour time weighted average 0.1 f/cc and 30 minute exposure 1.0 f/cc).

PLM: polarized light microscopy method used to analyze bulk samples for asbestos content; required by both OSHA and EPA as the basic analytical method to determine applicability under the asbestos regulations.

structures/mm2: asbestos structures, as defined by AHERA (fiber, bundle, matrix or cluster), per square millimeter of filter; reporting units for AHERA TEM analyses.

TEM: transmission electron microscopy, highly technical equipment used to perform asbestos analysis on air samples. It can resolve and distinguish all asbestos fibers from other fibers. Required for “final clearance” before re-occupancy in schools under AHERA.

The primary federal asbestos regulations are:

  • OSHA Asbestos in the construction industry (29 CFR 1926.1101)
  • OSHA Asbestos in general industry (29 CFR 1910.1001)
  • OSHA Respiratory protection (29 CFR 1910.134)
  • EPA AHERA: Asbestos in schools (40 CFR 763, subpart E)
  • EPA NESHAP: Control of emissions, waste management & disposal(40 CFR 61 subpart M).
  • EPA Model Accreditation Plan: certified persons and specifications (40 CFR 763, appendix C of subpart E)
  • EPA Worker Protection: protects asbestos workers excluded from federal OSHA (40 CFR 763, subpart G)

If you are seeking information or help with your insurance loss or simple wanted to better understand what is involved for the purpose of properly estimating the repair cost, call EATechs @ 508.796.3525.