What is Asbestos and Why We Regulate It
Asbestos is a naturally occurring mineral (magnesium silicate) fiber that has been widely used in many construction materials and manufactured products, from insulation to vinyl flooring to spray-on "popcorn" ceilings.
Left undisturbed and in good condition, these products can perform as intended. Problems arise, however, when they deteriorate and fall apart or are disturbed through the actions associated with demolition and renovation. These activities can cause asbestos to break down (become “friable”) into tiny fibers that become airborne, are easily inhaled, and settle deep into the lungs. Medical research tells us that asbestos fibers can cause lung cancer, asbestosis, or mesothelioma, a related terminal cancer of the tissue lining the chest cavity, several years after inhalation.
That's why asbestos is classified as a hazardous air pollutant by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and why demolition and renovation projects must comply with certain asbestos requirements before they begin.
- Agency asbestos regulations, waiting period and fees (PDF)
- Before You Start, Check for Asbestos (brochure, PDF)
- Revise Si Hay Asbesto Antes Empezar (Spanish, PDF)
- Asbestos health effects
- State-certified asbestos abatement contractors
- 2011 Carpet Removal Best Practices for Carpet Recycling (PDF 0.2MB) Tools for reducing contamination of recovered carpet.