Asbestos Program Frequently Asked Questions

What is Asbestos?

Asbestos is a naturally occurring mineral that is usually excavated from open-pit mines. The asbestos rock is then crushed to free the fibers. Asbestos is mixed with a material that binds the fibers together so they can be used in many different products. The three most common types of asbestos found in today’s industrial applications include Chrysotile, Amosite, and Crocidolite.

What are the Health Risks of Exposure to Asbestos?

It is generally accepted that exposure to asbestos can cause cancer and a number of lung diseases. Factors that play a part in determining the relative risk of disease are magnitude of exposure, duration of exposure, general health of the individual exposed, and asbestos fiber characteristics. The latency period between exposure and onset of disease usually ranges between 10 and 40 years. Persons who smoke and work with asbestos increase their risk of developing asbestos related disease 50 to 90 times persons that do not smoke.

Many studies confirming hazards of asbestos exposure have concentrated on workers in asbestos manufacturing and application industries. Studies characterizing the exposures of maintenance and custodial workers have shown a much greater risk than that of general building occupants.

Nationally, exposure potential for general building occupants appears to be low; therefore the risk of developing asbestos related disease is low.

Is there Asbestos at UVM?

YES. The University of Vermont is not unique. Products containing asbestos are found in University buildings. Those materials that have been tested are summarized in a Bulk Sample Data List maintained by the Training & Compliance Office. Those materials that have not been tested are Presumed Asbestos Containing Materials (PACM).

To avoid disturbance of unknown asbestos containing materials, the EPA has mandated that areas that are to be renovated or demolished must first be surveyed for asbestos containing materials. Positive results require that the plan be revised to avoid disturbing the material, or that an asbestos abatement activity be conducted. Individuals trained and certified in the discipline must perform surveys.

When is Asbestos Removed at UVM?

Removal of asbestos containing materials is not undertaken if they are in good condition and have little potential for disturbance by maintenance, renovation and daily activity. When asbestos-containing materials will be disturbed by renovation, demolition, or are badly deteriorated such that they can not be repaired, they are removed. Asbestos containing materials that present minimal exposure potentials and are performing their function are maintained.

What is an Asbestos Abatement Activity?

An asbestos abatement activity is the repair, enclosure, removal, encapsulation, maintaince or any other activity (project design, monitoring, planning, inspecting) for the evaluation or control of any material which contains more than one percent asbestos.