Asbestos in Building Materials
Asbestos was used extensively in home construction from the early 1940s through the 1970s as highly-effective and inexpensive fire-retardant material and thermal and acoustic insulator. It is now known that prolonged exposure to asbestos fibers can lead to lung disease. In homes built prior to 1975, asbestos is most commonly found as thermal insulation on basement boilers and pipes. Unfortunately, it can also be found in a myriad of other household materials including:
- Blown-in attic insulation
- Corrugated heavy duty 8 by 4 foot panels
- Fiber cement siding (usually 1/8 inches thick and 8 by 4 foot brittle)
- Glue that attaches floor tiles to concrete or wood
- Heating, Ventilation, and Air Conditioning (HVAC) duct insulation (usually found in corrugated or flat paper form)
- Roofing material (usually on flat roofs but occasionally on asbestos shingles sometimes called transite)
- Siding material
- Some forms of linoleum
- Some forms of paint
- Vinyl floor tiles
- Window caulking and glazing
The mere presence of asbestos in your home is not hazardous. Generally, material in good condition will not release asbestos fibers and disturbing it may create a health hazard where none existed before. The best thing to do with asbestos material in good condition is to leave it alone. The danger comes from asbestos material that has been damaged over time. Asbestos that crumbles easily if handled, or that has been sawed, scraped, or sanded into a powder is likely to release asbestos fibers and create a health hazard.
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has oversight over the Asbestos National Emissions Standards for Hazardous Air Pollutants (NESHAP) (40 CFR, Part 61, Subpart M) program and has delegation over some local air districts. Placer County Air Pollution Control District is one of 19 air districts out of the 35 in California which does not have an asbestos program, making it non-delegated, with the U.S. EPA delegated to administer it. View a map that shows which air districts manage their own program or have the U.S. EPA manage the program.
In "non-delegated" districts, a demolition/renovation notification to the U.S. EPA is required for compliance with the Asbestos NESHAP. The U.S. EPA reviews and investigates the notifications. Since the Placer County Air Pollution Control District is NON-delegated, any questions regarding requirements for asbestos in construction materials should be made to the staff of the U.S. EPA.
Demolition & Renovation Activities
The demolition or renovation of a structure may disturb asbestos containing materials, which would require a survey or inspection with notification of the results to the U.S. EPA as per the NESHAP requirements. A permit for demolition or renovation must be obtained from your local building department. The demolition or renovations permit of a residential building which has four or fewer dwelling units and/or out-buildings usually may be issued without the applicant conducting an asbestos inspection or notification, if the applicant declares the project is exempt. For demolitions, the permitting agency must require the applicant to make the declaration in writing, or it may incorporate the applicant's response on the demolition permit application. (Reference Health and Safety Code Section 19827.5)
Forms & Applications
The District, in cooperation, with ARB staff, have prepared an Asbestos NESHAP Declaration of Notification Compliance form (PDF) for the use of building department staff, which asks questions to determine if a project is exempt from survey/inspection and/or notification requirements. This form has been provided to Placer County’s city, town and county building departments to use or modify as needed. The District’s Construction Asbestos Fact Sheet (PDF) explains when an asbestos inspection may be required, who must perform it, and notification requirements.
If an inspection or survey for asbestos is required, an Asbestos Notification Form (PDF), must be completed and forwarded to the U.S. EPA along with a copy provided to your building department with the application for demolition or renovation permit. Instructions may be found on the ARB website.
- Access FAQs about the Asbestos NESHAP: U.S. EPA Common Questions.
- Find more asbestos information from U.S. EPA.
- View information about the Asbestos NESHAP Program administered by the California Air Resources Board, including the Asbestos Notification Form and instructions.
- Homeowners exempt from the Asbestos Notification requirements remain subject to asbestos disposal requirements and should contact the Department of Toxic Substance Control (DTSC) at 800-728-6942, regarding asbestos disposal. This DTSC Fact Sheet provides further information.
- Information about disposal of asbestos containing waste materials can be found on the Department of Toxic Substances Control - Managing Asbestos (PDF).
- The Division of Occupational Safety and Health administers a number of programs regarding exposure to asbestos in the workplace as well as certified consultants and site surveillance technicians.
- View a list of certified asbestos consultants and certified site surveillance technicians.
- Find a list of contractors registered with the California Department of Industrial Relations.
- For further general information asbestos found in home construction materials, please see the This Old House Fact Sheet (PDF).
- Information concerning Naturally Occurring Asbestos can be found at the District’s website.