I. Substance Identification
- Substance: "Asbestos" is the name of a class of magnesium-silicate minerals that occur in fibrous form. Minerals that are included in this group are chrysotile, crocidolite, amosite, tremolite asbestos, anthophyllite asbestos, and actinolite asbestos.
- Asbestos is used in the manufacture of heat-resistant clothing, automative brake and clutch linings, and a variety of building materials including floor tiles, roofing felts, ceiling tiles, asbestos-cement pipe and sheet, and fire-resistant drywall. Asbestos is also present in pipe and boiler insulation materials, and in sprayed-on materials located on beams, in crawlspaces, and between walls.
- The potential for a product containing asbestos to release breatheable fibers depends on its degree of friability. Friable means that the material can be crumbled with hand pressure and is therefore likely to emit fibers. The fibrous or fluffy sprayed-on materials used for fireproofing, insulation, or sound proofing are considered to be friable, and they readily release airborne fibers if disturbed. Materials such as vinyl-asbestos floor tile or roofing felts are considered nonfriable and generally do not emit airborne fibers unless subjected to sanding or sawing operations. Asbestos-cement pipe or sheet can emit airborne fibers if the materials are cut or sawed, or if they are broken during demolition operations.
- Permissible exposure: Exposure to airborne asbestos fibers may not exceed 0.2 fibers per cubic centimeter of air (0.1 f/cc) averaged over the 8-hour workday.
II. Health Hazard Data
- Asbestos can cause disabling respiratory disease and various types of cancers if the fibers are inhaled. Inhaling or ingesting fibers from contaminated clothing or skin can also result in these diseases. The symptoms of these diseases generally do not appear for 20 or more years after initial exposure.
- Exposure to asbestos has been shown to cause lung cancer, mesothelioma, and cancer of the stomach and colon. Mesothelioma is a rare cancer of the thin membrane lining of the chest and abdomen. Symptoms of mesothelioma include shortness of breath, pain in the walls of the chest, and/or abdominal pain.
III. Respirators and Protective Clothing
- Respirators: You are required to wear a respirator when performing tasks that result in asbestos exposure that exceeds the permissible exposure limit (PEL) of 0.1 f/cc. These conditions can occur while your employer is in the process of installing engineering controls to reduce asbestos exposure, or where engineering controls are not feasible to reduce asbestos exposure. Air-purifying respirators equipped with a high-efficiency particulate air (HEPA) filter can be used where airborne asbestos fiber concentrations do not exceed 2 f/cc; otherwise, air-supplied, positive-pressure, full facepiece respirators must be used. Disposable respirators or dust masks are not permitted to be used for asbestos work. For effective protection, respirators must fit your face and head snugly. Your employer is required to conduct fit tests when you are first assigned a respirator and every 6 months thereafter. Respirators should not be loosened or removed in work situations where their use is required.
- Protective clothing: You are required to wear protective clothing in work areas where asbestos fiber concentrations exceed the permissible exposure limit.
IV. Disposal Procedures and Cleanup
- Wastes that are generated by processes where asbestos is present include:
- Empty asbestos shipping containers.
- Process wastes such as cuttings, trimmings, or reject material.
- Housekeeping waste from sweeping or vacuuming.
- Asbestos fireproofing or insulating material that is removed from buildings.
- Building products that contain asbestos removed during building renovation or demolition.
- Contaminated disposable protective clothing.
- Empty shipping bags can be flattened under exhaust hoods and packed into airtight containers for disposal. Empty shipping drums are difficult to clean and should be sealed.
- Vacuum bags or disposable paper filters should not be cleaned, but should be sprayed with a fine water mist and placed into a labeled waste container.
- Process waste and housekeeping waste should be wetted with water or a mixture of water and surfactant prior to packaging in disposable containers.
- Material containing asbestos that is removed from buildings must be disposed of in leak-tight 6-mil thick plastic bags, plastic-lined cardboard containers, or plastic-lined metal containers. These wastes, which are removed while wet, should be sealed in containers before they dry out to minimize the release of asbestos fibers during handling.
V. Access to Information
- Each year, your employer is required to inform you of the information contained in this standard and appendices for asbestos. In addition, your employer must instruct you in the proper work practices for handling materials containing asbestos, and the correct use of protective equipment.
- Your employer is required to determine whether you are being exposed to asbestos. You or your representative has the right to observe employee measurements and to record the results obtained. Your employer is required to inform you of your exposure, and, if you are exposed above the permissible limit, he or she is required to inform you of the actions that are being taken to reduce your exposure to within the permissible limit.
- Your employer is required to keep records of your exposures and medical examinations. These exposure records must be kept for at least thirty (30) years. Medical records must be kept for the period of your employment plus thirty (30) years.
- Your employer is required to release your exposure and medical records to your physician or designated representative upon your written request.
[57 FR 24330, June 8, 1992; 59 FR 40964, Aug. 10, 1994; 60 FR 33972, June 29, 1995]