Asbestos laws & safety compliance analysis

Asbestos : What you need to know


Asbestos is the name given to several naturally occurring fibrous silicate minerals that have been mined because of several useful properties: thermal insulation, chemical and thermal stability, and high tensile strength. Asbestos is made up of bundles of fibers that can only be identified under a microscope.

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Asbestos may become airborne when it is disturbed and inhaled into the lungs, where it may have significant negative health effects. Many of the negative health effects may not be evident for 15 to 40 years after exposure. Some of the negative health effects associated with asbestos inhalation include:

  • Asbestosis. Asbestosis is the scarring of lung tissue caused by asbestos fibers trapped in the lungs. The scarring can become so severe that the lungs will not function.
  • Mesothelioma. Mesothelioma is cancer of the outer lining of the lung and chest cavity and/or the lining of the abdominal wall. The only known cause of this type of cancer is asbestos exposure.
  • Lung cancer, although there can be other contributing factors increasing the risk of lung cancer.

Asbestos is not always an immediate hazard if it is maintained in good condition and undisturbed. Asbestos-containing material (ACM) only becomes a hazard when it is disturbed or damaged, causing asbestos fibers to separate and become airborne. Asbestos is commonly used as an acoustic insulator, thermal insulator, fireproofing material, and other building material. See COMMON ASBESTOS-CONTAINING PRODUCTS under Additional Guidance in this section.


Asbestos regulation falls primarily under the jurisdiction of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the U.S. Department of Labor's Occupational Safety and Health ...

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