What is asbestos?

Asbestos is a naturally occurring mineral.

Where is asbestos used?

Asbestos was widely used as a building material and fire retardant, according to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. On-campus testing has determined the following building materials may contain asbestos:

  • Floor tile
  • Mastic
  • Thermal insulation
  • Window caulking and glazing
  • Roofing materials
  • Glue daubs behind chalkboards
  • Fire-rated doors
  • Duct seam sealant
  • Textured ceilings
  • Wall plaster or joint compounds
  • Thermal resistant textiles
  • Interior of chemical fume hoods
It's important to note that not all of these materials will contain asbestos. However, out of an abundance of caution, the university will assume these materials contain asbestos unless tested and verified by Environmental Health & Safety.

Is asbestos dangerous?

Asbestos within building materials poses little hazard when undisturbed. Typically, exposure happens when building materials containing the mineral are damaged or disturbed by activities such as demolition and construction.

Exposure to asbestos increases your risk of developing lung disease — a risk made worse by smoking. In general, the greater the exposure, the greater the chance of developing harmful health effects. 

How can I mitigate risk?

Care must be taken to ensure that materials containing asbestos are not disturbed and protective coverings are not damaged.

What is the role of Hazardous Materials Operations?

The EHS Hazardous Operations staff (HazOps) works closely with Facilities Project Managers and Operations & Services personnel prior to and during building, renovation and repair work. HazOps:

  • Ensures samples are collected and sent to a state-certified lab for testing prior to impacting suspect building materials;
  • Reviews the work site with the abatement firm to help ensure all appropriate measures are taken;
  • Attempts to schedule abatements off-hours;
  • Ensures a 10-day notification is filed with the Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection before anything is impacted;
  • Requires a third-party hygienist for air monitoring during all abatements;
  • Sends email notification to building occupants prior to asbestos abatements;
  • Sets a more stringent air clearance criteria of 0.007 fibers per cubic centimeter than the legally required level of 0.01 asbestos fibers per cubic centimeter; and
  • Provides asbestos awareness training to university personnel.

What am I required to do?

University faculty, staff, contractors and students (all persons) are directed not to disturb any building materials containing asbestos through activities such as drilling into ceilings, floors or fire-rated doors; cutting or hanging items from ACM (asbestos containing materials); or removing protective coverings.

All persons shall contact the Environmental, Health & Safety (EHS) office to request an asbestos determination prior to impacting any suspect materials.

Whom do I contact?

Contact the EHS office at Hazardous_Receiving@uml.edu regarding asbestos material information or to report damage to asbestos containing materials.