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Marquette University Asbestos Management Program

Introduction

The purpose of this program is to establish methods for management of asbestos containing material (ACM) on campus as well as provide safety training and promote awareness.  The asbestos protocol covers the identification, maintenance, and removal of regulated asbestos containing material in University facilities. This program is intended to comply with state and federal asbestos regulations, including the standards of EPA and OSHA.  A Campus Inventory Database of potential asbestos containing materials is kept up to date to ensure nothing is overlooked.

Asbestos is a serious health hazard commonly found in our environment today, thus it is highly important for employees to know where it is likely to be found, how to avoid exposure, and have an adequate understanding of the associated hazards.

 

What is Asbestos?

Asbestos is the name applied to a group of naturally occurring minerals that are mined from the earth. The six different types of regulated asbestos are:

Of these six, three are used more commonly. Chrysotile (white) is the most common, but it is not unusual to encounter Amosite (brown/off-white), or Crocidolite (blue) as well. In many instances a single product will have a mixture of different asbestos types.

All types of asbestos can break into very tiny fibers. These individual fibers can be broken down so small that they can only be identified using an electron microscope. Some individual fibers may be up to 700 times smaller than the diameter of a human hair. Because asbestos fibers are so small, once released into the air, they may stay suspended there for hours or even days.

Asbestos fibers are virtually indestructible. They are resistant to chemicals and heat, and are very stable in the environment. They do not evaporate into air or dissolve in water, and they are not broken down over time. Asbestos is probably the best insulator known to man. Because asbestos has so many useful properties, it has been used in over 3,000 different products.

Usually asbestos is mixed with other materials to actually form the products. Floor tiles, for example, may contain only a small percentage of asbestos. Depending on what the product is, the amount of asbestos in asbestos containing materials (ACM) may vary from less than 1% to 100%.

 

Where is Asbestos Found?

Asbestos may be found in many different products and many different places. Examples of products that might contain asbestos are:

At Marquette, asbestos is most likely to be found in:

 

When is Asbestos Dangerous?

The most common way for asbestos fibers to enter the body is through breathing. In fact, asbestos containing material is not generally considered to be harmful unless it is releasing dust or fibers into the air where they can be inhaled or ingested. Many of the fibers will become trapped in the mucous membranes of the nose and throat where they can then be removed, but some may pass deep into the lungs, or, if swallowed, into the digestive tract. Once they are trapped in the body, the fibers can cause health problems.

For further information on the Health Effects of Asbestos, follow the link

Asbestos is most hazardous when it is friable. The term "friable" means that the asbestos is easily crumbled by hand, releasing fibers into the air. Sprayed on asbestos insulation is highly friable. Asbestos floor tile generally is not.  Asbestos-containing ceiling tiles, floor tiles, undamaged laboratory cabinet tops, shingles, fire doors, siding shingles, etc. will not release asbestos fibers unless they are disturbed or damaged in some way. If an asbestos ceiling tile is drilled or broken, for example, it may release fibers into the air. If it is left alone and not disturbed, it generally will not. Asbestos pipe and boiler insulation does not present a hazard unless the protective canvas covering is cut or damaged in such a way that the asbestos underneath is actually exposed to the air.

Damage and deterioration will increase the friability of asbestos-containing materials. Water damage, continual vibration, aging, and physical impact such as drilling, grinding, buffing, cutting, sawing, or striking can break the materials down making fiber release more likely.

 

How to Avoid Asbestos Exposure

In order to avoid being exposed to asbestos, you must be aware of the locations it is likely to be found. If you do not know whether something is asbestos or not, assume that it is until it is verified otherwise. Remember that you cannot tell if floor or ceiling tiles contain asbestos just by looking at them. Never try to take a sample yourself unless you are licensed to do so.

The MU Facilities Services Department has a licensed asbestos abatement contractor that can take samples from materials in order to determine whether or not they contain asbestos. If you need to have materials analyzed or tested for asbestos, contact your Coordinator.

If you do not know that a building material is asbestos free DO NOT DISTURB IT. 

Never:

                ...any building materials or equipment which has not been proven to be asbestos free by a certified inspector.

If you need to do work that might involve asbestos (lifting ceiling tiles, repairing insulated pipelines, etc.), check with your Coordinator to find out what can be done safely.

For example, before moving any ceiling tiles to perform maintenance work, it will be necessary to ensure they do not contain asbestos. If they do contain asbestos, they will need to be removed by licensed asbestos abatement workers before the work may be performed.

 

Housekeeping

Housekeepers and custodians should never sand or dry buff asbestos containing floor tiles, and only wet stripping methods may be used during stripping operations. Low abrasion pads should be used at speeds below 300 rpm.

Broken and fallen ceiling tiles should be left in place until identified. Only after they have been identified as asbestos free may they be removed. Asbestos tiles will be removed by asbestos abatement workers. Broken and damaged asbestos floor tiles must also be removed by asbestos abatement workers.

It is important to report any damaged asbestos-containing materials to your Coordinator immediately. Do not attempt to clean up spills yourself!

By knowing where asbestos is likely to be located and then taking measures not to disturb it, you will protect yourself and others from exposure to this hazardous substance.

 

OSHA Regulations


OSHA began regulating workplace exposure to asbestos in 1970. In the mid-1980s, the EPA's Asbestos Hazard Emergency Response Act (AHERA) heightened the public's awareness of asbestos. Over the years, more information on the adverse health effects of asbestos exposure has become available. This prompted OSHA to revise the Occupational Exposure to Asbestos standard (29 CFR 1926.1101, August 1994). In November 2000, the EPA adopted by reference the OSHA standards, thereby intending the same protection to state and local government-sector workers as that provided to private-sector workers. The OSHA standard, the EPA Toxic Substances Control Act (40 CFR 763, Section 6), and to some extent the EPA AHERA standard, dictate asbestos management policies and practices at Marquette University.

For further information, refer to Marquette’s Asbestos Awareness Training Program(PowerPoint Presentation).


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Mission Statement

The Risk Unit is responsible for evaluating loss exposures, assessing liability, handling claims, promoting internal controls and developing effective safety and health programs. The corporate and student insurance plans are managed by this unit.