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Asbestos

Asbestos and Your Health

Asbestos and Your Health

The term asbestos refers to several types of naturally occurring fibrous minerals. These fibers are resistant to heat, fire and chemicals and do not conduct electricity. It can be found in a variety of environments, from natural sources like serpentine rock to man-made sources like insulating materials such as thermal systems insulation and brake linings. Asbestos from either source can be a serious health concern if inhaled or ingested.

Asbestos containing materials become a health hazard once they are disturbed. Intact, asbestos fibers imbedded within construction materials, components, and rock are inert and do not pose a health hazard; however, once they are disturbed, through physical contact such as land grading or building renovation and demolition activities, asbestos fibers may be rendered airborne.

Airborne asbestos fibers are a significant health threat because asbestos fibers are microscopic and invisible to the unaided eye. In addition, they have the physical characteristics to bypass the ability of the human lung to filter air contaminants. As a result, exposure to asbestos allows the fibers to reach deep within the lungs, and may irritate and scar lung tissues.

Long-term chronic and acute exposure to asbestos fibers may cause serious health problems including:

  • Asbestosis, an inflammatory condition of the lungs that can cause shortness of breath, coughing, and eventually scarring of the lungs that makes it hard to breathe.
  • Mesothelioma, a rare cancer that affects the lining of the lungs, chest cavity, or abdomen.
  • Lung cancer.
  • Other lung problems, including pleural plaques (changes in the membranes surrounding the lungs), thickening of the membranes that surround the lungs, and pleural effusions (abnormal collections of fluid between the lungs and the inside wall of the chest).
  • Asbestos has been classified as a known carcinogen (a substance that causes cancer) by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, the EPA and the International Agency for Research on Cancer. Studies have shown that exposure to asbestos may increase the risk of lung cancer and mesothelioma.

If You Think Your Home, Building or Workplace Contains Asbestos

  • Hire a certified asbestos consultant. Click here for a list, or look in the yellow pages under “Asbestos” or “Environmental.”
  • Do not dust, sweep, or vacuum particles suspected of containing asbestos. Use only licensed asbestos removal contractors.
  • The Contractors State Licensing Board has prepared a booklet titled: “What You Should Know Before You Hire a Contractor.”
  • The District has free copies of several booklets available on asbestos.
  • Forms for demolition or renovation must be submitted by you or your licensed asbestos contractor to the District 10 working days in advance of any work.

Asbestos Contractors & Consultants

Click here for our PDF list of current asbestos contractors and consultants. Please note that they are not recommendations, just for informational purposes. 

Asbestos Resources

Should you have a complaint or concern regarding asbestos, please feel free to call the District 805-781-5912 for prompt attention to the matter. You can remain anonymous. You can also submit a complaint using our form.

Resources for Further Information on Asbestos

APCD Checklist for an Asbestos Survey

The federal asbestos NESHAP regulation (40CFR61, Subpart M) requires an owner or operator of a demolition or renovation activity to “thoroughly inspect” the facility or part of the facility where the demolition or renovation operation will occur for the presence of asbestos, including Category I and Category II nonfriable asbestos containing materials.

To meet this federal standard, the District requires the asbestos survey report to contain the following minimum sections/information.  Failure to provide the required information could result in project delays and/or rejection of the asbestos report. To help you get in the required documents, we have developed a checklist. CLICK HERE for the Asbestos Survey Checklist.  

For Contractors

Resources for questions regarding the certification of a certain company, or issues relating to certification:

CAL OSHA for worker safety and contractor/consultant registration: 916-920-6131

Contractors State Licensing Board contractor licensing issues: 916-366-5153 

CA Department of Industrial Relations
Division of Occupational Safety and Health
Asbestos Topics
Contractor Lookup (Use Area Code)

For Homeowners

The American Lung Association
The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)
Center for Disease Control & Prevention
The National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH)
Occupational Safety & Health Administration (OSHA) U.S. Department of Labor
Contact us for more information on this topic.

Demolitions

Click here for Federal Asbestos NESHAP Regulation and Guidance for Demolition Projects. 

NESHAP

The Air District is delegated authority by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to implement the Federal Asbestos NESHAP regulations specified in 40 CFR 61, Subpart M

There are specific requirements and procedures delineated in this regulation which pertain to certain demolition and renovation projects. All non-residential demolitions of any kind of structure or asbestos containing material disturbance are required to be approved in advance by the District. The steps to be taken by an owner/operator subject to this regulation are clearly defined and are listed in the Renovation and Demolition sections. The requirements include conducting a thorough inspection for the presence of asbestos by a Certified Asbestos Consultant (CAC) and written notification to the District of the demolition or renovation at least 10 working days prior to the start of the job. Contractors should call the District to obtain specific requirements that relate to their specific project at least one month in advance of the project start date. Note that although Single Family Dwellings (SFD’s) are exempt from this Rule, many may be subject due to a wide array of site specific circumstances. Prior to demolition of your SFD, please contact the District in order to ensure compliance with this Rule.

NESHAP Fees

To recover costs the San Luis Obispo County Air Pollution Control District (APCD) will assess fees for all staff time or resources dedicated to determining compliance with the NESHAP. Fees shall be charged to the person responsible for the facility subject to the NESHAP at a rate which reflects labor costs as set periodically by the Air Pollution Control Board and actual costs incurred by the District.

In addition, NESHAP fee amounts for each demolition and renovation project depend upon the demolition and quantity of regulated asbestos containing material (RACM) disturbed. Please refer to the plan fee schedule for more information.

Asbestos in Building Materials

Some 3,000 types of products were made with asbestos fibers. Below is the description of the two main categories of asbestos used in building materials.

Asbestos Categories Definition Examples

Regulated
Asbestos-Containing
Material (RACM)

Contains greater than 1% asbestos and
is friable: can be crumbled, pulverized or
reduced to powder by hand when dry.

• ceiling tiles and acoustic spray
• stucco
• air duct and boiler pipe wrap
• paper backing of linoleum

Non-friable
Asbestos-Containing
Material (ACM)

Typically bound up with a hardening
binder. Some products are still in use.
Can become RACM when pulverized.

• transite (cement) siding
• vinyl asbestos floor tiles
• asphalt roofing shingles

Asbestos in Damaged Buildings

Structures that have been damaged or have collapsed due to earthquakes, fires, or other disasters may contain hazardous materials, principally asbestos. Home or building owners and workers cleaning up debris should take steps to protect themselves or hire a licensed contractor to handle the cleanup. The APCD has the local responsibility to regulate materials containing more than 1% asbestos and can be contacted at their office to provide assistance and advice during regular business hours. The APCD office number is 805-781-5912.

APCD Checklist for an Asbestos Survey

The federal asbestos NESHAP regulation (40CFR61, Subpart M) requires an owner or operator of a demolition or renovation activity to “thoroughly inspect” the facility or part of the facility where the demolition or renovation operation will occur for the presence of asbestos, including Category I and Category II nonfriable asbestos containing materials.

To meet this federal standard, the District requires the asbestos survey report to contain the following minimum sections/information.  Failure to provide the required information could result in project delays and/or rejection of the asbestos report. To help you get in the required documents, we have developed a checklist. CLICK HERE for the Asbestos Survey Checklist.  

NESHAP Forms & Other Reference Materials

SLO County APCD NESHAP Brochure - contact us to get a hardcopy of this brochure too!

NESHAP Plan Fee Schedule

Asbestos Demolition/Renovation General Information and Notification Form 

Asbestos Contractors, Consultants, Laboratories

Link to 40 CFR61 M

OSHA 1529

Naturally Occurring Asbestos (NOA)

Asbestos is commonly found in ultramafic rock, including serpentine, near fault zones and is released into the air when it is broken or crushed. This can happen when land is graded for building purposes, or at quarrying operations. The state of California has determined that NOA, such as serpentine rock, is a toxic air contaminant and if inhaled may result in the development of lung cancer or cause other health hazards. Work in serpentine areas requires a District pre-approved dust control plan and may include asbestos air monitoring.

The California Air Resources Board has identified asbestos as a toxic air contaminant. In San Luis Obispo County, serpentine rock is located in many regions of the county including: coastal, coastal mountain, western north county and the extreme eastern county area along the San Andreas Fault. Under the ARB's Air Toxics Control Measure (NOA ATCM) for Construction, Grading, Quarrying, and Surface Mining Operations, prior to any grading activities at a site within the green “buffer” areas on the APCD NOA map, the Owner or Operator will be required to comply with the applicable sections contained in the NOA ATCM. For those projects within the NOA Planning area (green areas), the following requirements apply.

Grading Projects:

For grading projects qualifying for NOA ATCM exemption:

  • Submit NOA Exemption form with geologic evaluation.

For grading projects in serpentine rock less than 1 acre:

  • Submit Project Form with geologic evaluation.
  • Mini Dust Control Measures (93105.e.(A-F).

For grading projects in serpentine rock greater than 1 acre:

NOA Fees

The San Luis Obispo County Air Pollution Control District (APCD) will assess Review Fees for all work that has the potential to disturb soil containing Naturally Occurring Asbestos (NOA).

NOA Project Review Fee amounts depend upon the project size and if projects involve disturbance of asbestos serpentine, and include dust mitigation plans or air monitoring. Exemptions from requirements are available based on geological evaluation. Please refer to the fee schedule for more information.

NOA Forms & Other Reference Documents

Project (page 1) and Exemption (page 2) Forms

Fees 

Air Toxic Control Measure (ATCM)

California Geological Survey

Air Resources Board

Notification Forms & Fees

Click here to see the PDF of our Asbestos Demolition/Renovation Notification Form and General Information. 

Renovations

Click here for the PDF of our Asbestos Compliance: An Interior Renovation Guide. 



The term asbestos refers to several types of naturally occurring fibrous minerals. These fibers are resistant to heat, fire and chemicals and do not conduct electricity.  It can be found in a variety of environments, from natural sources like serpentine rock to man-made sources like insulating materials such as thermal systems insulation and brake linings. Asbestos from either source can be a serious health concern if inhaled or ingested. Learn more about Naturally Occurring Asbestos (NOA) and the National Emission Standards for Hazardous Air Pollutants (NESHAP), as well as their impacts to your health, by selecting one of the drop-down tabs above.