Asbestos is the generic term for a group of naturally occurring fibrous minerals. The three types most commonly used in buildings are chrysotile, amosite, and crocidolite.
The fibers are extremely strong, flexible, and very resistant to heat, chemicals, and corrosion. The fibers can be spun, woven, bonded into other materials, or pressed to form paper products; for these reasons and because its low cost, asbestos has been widely used for many commercial applications.
Where is asbestos found?
Almost every public and commercial building in the United States constructed before the 1987 used asbestos. It was applied as fireproofing on steel beams and columns during construction of multistory buildings, added to concrete, asphalt, vinyl materials in roof shingles, pipes, siding, wall board, floor tiles, joint compounds and adhesives; and used in acoustical plaster and as a component of texture mixtures sprayed on ceilings and walls.
When are the building residents at risk?
Asbestos Containing Material (ACM) can become hazardous when they release fibers into the air due to damage, disturbance, or deterioration over time. The risk is even greater if the building is demolished, renovated, or remodeled.
According to the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) exposure to asbestos fibers can cause serious health risks. The major risks from asbestos come from inhaling and ingesting the fibers, which can easily penetrate body tissues and cause disabling or fatal diseases, such as asbestosis, mesothelioma, lung cancer, stomach and/or colon cancer.
When should we test for asbestos?
Before any alteration, renovation, modification, demolition, or plumbing work takes place, or changes in such work occur, the building owner shall be responsible for determining the absence or presence of asbestos-containing material which may be disturbed during the course of the work.
The presence of ACM cannot be confirmed visually but through laboratory analysis of samples. The asbestos investigations shall be conducted in accordance with DEP regulations and must be inspected by a licensed asbestos inspector prior to construction and permits.
Upon review of laboratory results; the asbestos investigator will determine if you have an “Asbestos Project” or “not an asbestos project”
Will the presence of asbestos affect my project’s budget?
The presence of asbestos will likely affect the budget, timeline and scope of work of the project.
Asbestos material can sometimes be encapsulated or left undisturbed in order to avoid the considerable expenses associated with the standard abatement project.
If the removal of the asbestos is necessary, an Environmental Hygienist should be hired to prepare a remediation plan following OSHA, DOB, DEP and EPA standards. Remediation projects require considerable protection, mechanical ventilation (HEPA fans), air samples and site monitoring.
How does asbestos affect my project filing?
Owners must demonstrate to the Department of Buildings that requirements for asbestos abatement have been satisfied before a DOB permit may be issued. The NYC Department of Buildings (DOB) requires that you test for asbestos and file an ACP-5 form with the applications for interior and exterior renovations.
When asbestos is found over the limits allowed, the DOB will not release any building permits until they have confirmation of completed remediation in the form of a DEP Asbestos Project Completion Form (ACP21).
Additionally, Section 22 of the PW1 form needed for alteration filing requires that the professional of record (P.E. or R.A.) indicates if the project is “not an asbestos project” or if it will require asbestos abatement. The number of the ACP-5 provided by the asbestos inspector must also be entered in this form.
What is the ACP-5 Form?
The ACP-5 is the Asbestos Assessment Report prepared and provided by the Environmental Hygienist/Asbestos inspector upon review of the asbestos test results.
Asbestos Assessment Report (ACP-5 Form)
If the asbestos investigator finds that less than 10 square feet or 25 linear feet of Asbestos Containing Material (ACM) will be disturbed, the project is considered “Not an Asbestos Project.” Even though such a project is termed “Not an Asbestos Project,” asbestos must still be abated in accordance with all relevant laws.
The ACP-5 could also certify that you’re not going to disturb any ACM during your construction job or that the premises is free of any ACM. Once DOB receives the Form ACP-5, DOB may proceed with the DOB permitting process.
What is the ACP7 Form?
The ACP-7 is the “Asbestos Project Notification Form” to be filed with DEP if the amount of asbestos to be disturbed exceeds 10 square feet or 25 linear as it is considered an “Asbestos Project”
Asbestos Project Notification (Form ACP-7)
Upon removal of all asbestos, you can file the ACP-21 form, which can be used to file and secure a construction permit for the entire job.
For more information related to asbestos project forms, pre-abatement activities, and conducting the abatement please click here.
When Asbestos Containing Material (ACM) is properly managed, release of fibers into the air is prevented or minimized, and the risk of asbestos related disease can be reduced to a negligible level.
How to reduce exposure to asbestos?
To reduce exposure, it is fundamental to test and determine where asbestos is located, then plan protection and work protocols to minimize activities that will release fibers into the air. The potential for a particular form of asbestos to release fibers will depend on several factors including the degree of friability, wear, age, and location.
Remember, the mere presence of asbestos itself does not create a health hazard unless the material is disturbed and releases fibers to the atmosphere. Protect yourself and others by being aware of where asbestos is located, the dangers involved, and using common sense when working around ACM.