What is Asbestos?


What is Asbestos?

The following information we would like to credit the Arizona Department of Environmental Quality for. Arizona Fire and Water Restoration does Asbestos Abatement, but we would like to also educate you on what Asbestos is and the costs of removal. We believe that everyone should be informed enough to make the best decisions possible for them!!!

What is Asbestos?

Asbestos is a word used to describe six naturally occurring incombustible minerals. Three of the most common types are chrysotile, amosite, and crocidolite. Asbestos is a mineral compound of silicon, oxygen, hydrogen, and various metals. Asbestos minerals formed millions of years ago when heat, pressure, or chemical activity changed the physical and chemical characteristics of pre-existing rock. Unlike other minerals, which consist of tightly bound crystals, asbestos minerals are characterized by the presence of densely packed bundles of fibers.

Asbestos was a popular component in commercial products from the early 1900s to the 1970s. Asbestos is durable, fire retardant, resists corrosion, and insulates very well. Asbestos use in America was most popular from the 1940s until the late 1970s when the health hazards associated with asbestos exposure became widely recognized. By this time asbestos had become an integral component of approximately 3,600 commercial products. During World War II, enormous quantities of asbestos were used in shipbuilding and other industries. Following the war and until the late 1970s, asbestos was widely used in buildings for fireproofing, thermal and acoustical insulation, condensation control, and decoration. It has been estimated that approximately 30 million tons of asbestos have been used in the construction and manufacturing industries since the early 1900s.

What are the Health Effects of Asbestos Exposure?

Asbestos fibers can cause serious health problems. If asbestos fibers are inhaled, the microscopic fibers can cause normal functions of the lungs to be disturbed. Exposure increases the risk of developing lung cancer, mesothelioma, or asbestosis, which is a scaring of the lungs that leads to breathing problems. It could take anywhere from 15 to 30 years after the first exposure for symptoms to occur. Medical investigations have shown that inhalation is the principal route of entry that leads to asbestos-related diseases. There is no known safe exposure level to asbestos. The greater the exposure, the greater the risk of developing an asbestos-related disease.

Asbestos Products Ban and Phase Out

On July 12, 1989, the U.S. EPA issued a final rule banning some, but not all, asbestos-containing products. For additional information, please visit the U.S. EPA: Asbestos page.

Regulations Governing Asbestos

Pursuant to the Clean Air Act of 1970, the U.S. EPA established the Asbestos National Emission Standard for Hazardous Air Pollutants (NESHAP). It is intended to minimize the release of asbestos fibers during activities involving the handling of asbestos. It specifies work practices to be followed during renovation, demolition, and other abatement activities when friable asbestos is involved. On March 31, 1971, the U.S. EPA identified asbestos as a hazardous pollutant. On April 6, 1973, the U.S. EPA first enforced the asbestos NESHAP Regulation in Title 40, Code of Federal Regulations, Part 61. On November 20, 1990, the U.S. EPA re-promulgated the entire Asbestos NESHAP regulation to enhance enforcement and compliance, Title 40, Code of Federal Regulations, Part 61, Subpart M, Asbestos. This is the current edition. On June 17, 1994, the U.S. EPA added Appendix A to clarify the Asbestos NESHAP as it affects roof removal operations involving asbestos.

About the Program

The purpose of the Asbestos National Emission Standard for Hazardous Air Pollutants (NESHAP) Program is to protect public health from exposure to regulated asbestos-containing material (RACM) during NESHAP facility renovation/demolition activities, asbestos removal, transport and disposal, by closely monitoring those activities for proper notification and asbestos emissions control. Asbestos is known to cause cancer and respiratory diseases in humans.

Under Section 112 of the Clean Air Act (CAA), Congress gave the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) the responsibility for enforcing regulations relating to asbestos renovations and demolitions activities. The CAA allows the U.S. EPA to delegate this authority to state and local agencies. Even after the U.S. EPA delegates responsibility to a state or local agency, the U.S. EPA retains authority to oversee agency performance and to enforce the Asbestos NESHAP regulations as necessary.

What Sources Are Covered by the Asbestos NESHAP?

Among others, the following activities and facilities are regulated:

  • Milling of asbestos
  • Commercial manufacturing of products that contain commercial asbestos
  • Demolition of all facilities, even though it may not contain asbestos
  • Renovation of facilities that contain friable asbestos-containing materials
  • Spraying of asbestos-containing materials
  • Processing (fabricating) of any manufactured products that contain asbestos
  • Use of insulating materials that contain commercial asbestos
  • Disposal of asbestos-containing waste generated during milling, manufacturing, renovation, demolition, spraying, and fabricating operations
  • Active waste disposal sites
  • Closure and maintenance of inactive waste disposal sites
  • Operation of and reporting on facilities that convert asbestos-containing waste material into non-asbestos material
  • Design and operation of air cleaning devices
  • Reporting of information pertaining to process control equipment, filter devices, asbestos generating process, etc.

Asbestos NESHAP Program and Notification Requirements

Any facility undergoing renovation or demolition. “Facility” means any institutional, commercial, public, industrial, or residential structure, installation, or building (including any structure, installation, or building containing condominiums or individual dwelling units operated as a residential cooperative, but excluding residential buildings having four or fewer dwelling units); any ship; and any active or inactive waste disposal site.


Prior to beginning renovation or demolition activities of a facility, a certified Asbestos AHERA (Hazard Emergency Response Act) building inspector should thoroughly inspect the facility or part of the facility where the renovation or demolition operation will occur for the presence of asbestos, including friable and non-friable asbestos containing materials.

For all demolitions (even when no asbestos is present) and renovation activities involving threshold amounts of regulated asbestos-containing material (RACM), provide the Asbestos NESHAP agency overseeing the project site with a NESHAP notification at least 10 working days prior to the demolition or renovation activity. Threshold amounts of RACM are:

  • 260 linear feet or more on pipes
  • 160 square feet or more on other facility components
  • 35 cubic feet or more off facility components

There are no state notification or permitting fees involved with this program for jurisdictional counties. The Region 9 Asbestos Program charges no fees for work on Tribal Lands. Maricopa, Pinal, and Pima counties have fees for their notification process. Some cities may have separate permit fees, and AHERA inspectors may charge a fee for their inspection.

Written Notification Requirement

Under section 61.145(b) of the Asbestos NESHAP, a written notification is required for renovation and demolition operations. Only completed notification forms are accepted. For NESHAP activities for the jurisdictional 12 counties that ADEQ regulates, the notification should be hand or typewritten and postmarked or delivered to ADEQ no later than 10 working days prior to the beginning of the asbestos activity or demolition. The address is:

Arizona Department of Environmental Quality
Air Quality Compliance Section, Field Services Unit
Attn: Asbestos NESHAP Program
1110 West Washington Street
Phoenix, Arizona 85007
(602) 771-2333
(800) 234-5677 – Toll Free (In State)

Additional Asbestos Resources
Statutory Citations

Title 40, Code of Federal Regulations, Subpart M, Part 61, Asbestos NESHAP; Arizona Revised Statutes § 49-421 et. Seq. and § 49-471 et. seq.; Arizona Administrative Code R18-2-1101 (A)(8)

Asbestos Related Links

“Non-endorsement of proprietary or other ADEQ reviewed products: The listing by ADEQ of any proprietary product or service is not an endorsement by ADEQ or the State of Arizona. ADEQ does not endorse, represent, guarantee, warranty or defend the use of any of the products or services you voluntarily sign up to provide information on, use, or receive. These product and service providers are a direct source unrelated to ADEQ or the State. Use of any listed product or service provider is at your own risk and the State assumes no liability.”

Here are a couple of pages of quick facts that you can print and take along with you!!!

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