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Health and Safety Guide




Asbestos is a generic term used to describe any of six naturally occurring fibrous minerals. Because of several desirable characteristics, asbestos was incorporated into a number of widely used products, (See list of products that may contain asbestos) many of which were used in building construction beginning in the late 1800’s. By the mid 1980’s most products containing asbestos had been removed from the market. When left intact and undisturbed, these materials do not pose a health risk to building occupants.

There is potential for exposure only when the material becomes damaged (e.g., torn or missing pipe insulation coverings) If powdered or friable forms of asbestos are disturbed, fibers may become airborne resulting in a possible inhalation hazard. In nonfriable asbestos products (e.g., floor tiles, roofing materials, etc.) the fibers are bound in a matrix which prevents their release to the air unless the material is cut or abraded. Therefore, these materials present even less of an exposure hazard.

In many cases it is not possible to readily distinguish between asbestos and non-asbestos forms of the same product (e.g., pipe insulation, fireproofing, etc.). In general, laboratory analysis is required to confirm whether or not a material contains asbestos.

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Damaged asbestos-containing material should be reported to Facilities Maintenance or Environmental Health and Safety (EHS). EHS is available to assist in determining whether a suspect material contains asbestos and to perform hazard assessments.

Prior to building maintenance or renovation projects, the Project Manager is responsible for arranging for a survey to determine if asbestos-containing building material is present in the work area and if so, whether it will be impacted by the planned work. When appropriate, asbestos abatement is performed before the project proceeds.

Asbestos abatement in educational facilities (including Princeton University) is highly regulated by the New Jersey Departments of Community Affairs and Environmental Protection. The requirements include submission and approval of an asbestos abatement design, use of a state-licensed firm to perform the abatement, air monitoring at the perimeter of the abatement area during removal, and inspection and clearance testing of the abated area prior to reoccupancy. If you have any questions concerning asbestos, contact EHS at 258-5294.

Asbestos Awareness training is provided to Maintenance and Building Services employees and is available to others on request.

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For More Information

Contact EHS at 258-5294

See the Asbestos Awareness Fact Sheet

The following information is available from Facilities Maintenance:

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