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Asbestos Frequently Asked Questions


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What is asbestos?
Asbestos is the common name for a group of naturally occurring mineral fibers known for their high tensile strength and thermal insulating properties. Asbestos has been used in various products since the 1900s, but its peak usage years were between 1950-1975. It was considered an ideal material to use, since it resembles fibers such as cotton and wool in its pliability and softness, yet it is inflammable and acid resistant.

Athophyllite, tremolite and actinolite are three other types of asbestos. They were not commonly used to manufacture products. However, tremolite contamination has been documented by the US Environmental Protection Agency in vermiculite attic insulation, and caution should be used when dealing with this material.

does asbestos come from?
Asbestos is mined as an ore from open pit mines. The ore is then processed to extract the fibers. Leading producers of asbestos in the world are Russia, Canada, China, Brazil, Kazakhstan and Zimbabwe.

What is asbestos used for?
is commonly found in a variety of building construction materials and products. A detailed list of possible materials and products containing asbestos is available from the EPA's asbestos web site

les include:

  • Heating system insulation
  • Spray-applied insulation
  • Vinyl floor tiles
  • Vinyl sheet flooring
  • Ceiling tiles
  • Adhesives and construction mastics
  • Roofing paper and shingles
  • Cement siding shingles
  • Plaster and joint compound
  • Vermiculite

Why is asbestos a problem?
When asbestos is disturbed, it can break down into microscopic fibers that may become airborne. Once airborne, these fibers can be inhaled and trapped in the lungs, posing a health threat. Breathing asbestos can cause respiratory diseases including asbestosis, lung cancer, and mesothelioma, a fatal cancer of the chest cavity lining.  The American Lung Association provides additional health information on the hazards of asbestos.

How should asbestos be managed to minimize health risks?
The greatest potential for exposure to asbestos fibers now occurs when asbestos-containing building materials are disturbed during either building renovations or demolitions. All building owners – residential and commercial – should know  what steps to take to properly identify and address asbestos hazards in structures prior to beginning any work that might disturb asbestos-containing materials.

What are the requirements for building renovation and demolition projects?Inspection - A thorough inspection must be conducted for the presence of asbestos-containing building materials prior to any building renovation or demolition project. The inspection must be conducted by a person licensed by Delaware in the identification of asbestos-containing building materials. These individuals are employed by Professional Service Firms licensed by Delaware’s Office of Management & Budget’s Facilities Management Division.

If asbestos is found during the inspection and will be disturbed during any renovation or repair work, it must be properly removed and disposed of at an approved disposal facility. Likewise, all asbestos must be removed prior to any building demolition project. In most cases, asbestos abatement activities must be performed by a Delaware-licensed abatement contractor. (View the Compliance Advisory Bulletin.)

Lists of licensed asbestos inspectors, and licensed abatement contractors are maintained by the Delaware Office of Management & Budget – Division of Facilities Management.

Notification - Each facility owner must provide written notification either by U.S. Mail or online to DNREC at least 10 working days before any building demolition activity occurs. This notification is required for all building demolition projects, regardless of the amount of asbestos present, and even when no asbestos is present.

Delaware Fire Companies demolishing structures by intentional burning training exercises must submit a Demolition Notification at least 10 working days prior to the scheduled training exercise.

For renovation projects, written notification either by U.S. Mail or online is required at least 10 working days prior to any asbestos abatement performed as part of the renovation if the abatement is greater than 260 linear feet, or 160 square feet of asbestos-containing building material.

No notification is required for renovations if the amount of asbestos-containing material is less than these abatements, or if there is no asbestos-containing material present that will be disturbed during the renovation.

The Demolition/Renovation Notification Form must be submitted to DNREC at least 10 working days before initiating an asbestos project via the US Postal Service, delivery service or hand delivery. Submittal of Demolition/Renovation Notification forms via FAX is at the facility owners'/contractors' own risk. Telefaxed notifications are only acceptable in emergency situations at the discretion of USEPA Region 3 and DNREC and must be followed with a written copy by the following working day.

Facility owners/asbestos contractors may also register online  to submit notifications electronically via Delaware’s Online Asbestos Notification System website.

Copies of ALL notifications must be sent to:

USEPA-Region 3
Attn. Asbestos Coordinator
1650 Arch Street
Philadelphia, PA 19103 

and to:

Attn.  Asbestos Coordinator
715 Grantham Lane
New Castle, DE 19720

Disposal - A homeowner may contact the Delaware Solid Waste Authority (DSWA) and make arrangements to bring their asbestos-containing material to one of DSWA’s transfer stations or landfills. DSWA requires homeowners to call 24 hours in advance and make an appointment before bringing any asbestos- containing waste to its facilities. Other requirements may include completing a DSWA Asbestos Disposal Form. Call DSWA Citizen’s Response Line at 1-800-404-7080 for more information. DNREC's Solid and Hazardous Waste Management Section maintains a list of waste haulers that are certified to transport asbestos. For a copy of this list, call the Section at (302) 739-9403.

What should I do with asbestos in my home?
Many homeowners have asbestos-containing materials in their homes. To properly identify these materials, homeowners should have an inspection performed by a Delaware-licensed asbestos inspector. Any asbestos-containing material that is in good condition and will not be disturbed should be left alone. However, if the material is deteriorating, or will be disturbed during renovation or demolition, it must be removed. Homeowners in single-family, owner-occupied homes may do the work themselves provided they package and dispose of the waste properly.

However, homeowners should use extreme caution when dealing with asbestos-containing materials, and should consider using a licensed asbestos abatement contractor for most removal projects. For more information on self-removal, read How to Properly Remove Cement Asbestos Board Siding.

For more information contact:

Colin Gomes
(302) 323-4542

Revised: 5/12/2016


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Asbestos samples

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