This Protection Program has been developed to explain the hazards of working with or near asbestos containing material, and to establish guidelines for the prevention of illness or disease caused from exposure to asbestos in the work environment. This program is designed to fulfill requirements of the Occupational Safety and Health Administration's (OSHA's) respiratory protection Standard 29 CFR 1910.134, compliance is mandatory.
By implementing this program, Integrated Construction & Utilities, NJ together with its employees shall be able to:
This Respiratory Protection Program contains information, definitions, and requirements to safely operate in and around atmospheres containing airborne asbestos.
To clarify and facilitate the understanding of respiratory protection issues, some information is presented in the format of questions and answers and includes a list of the most frequently asked questions.
For easy reference, this program is separated into 14 main sections:
Individuals who don't know a lot about asbestos but have heard much about its many dangers may be surprised to learn that asbestos is a natural substance, found in various places on the planet, not a man-made substance developed for commercial use. Asbestos is a catch-all term for a variety of different minerals which have a wide range of uses. The word "asbestos" is derived from Greek words meaning "not extinguishable"; asbestos is extremely resistant to fire and heat. All forms of asbestos are fibrous, meaning that asbestos strands can be extracted from the rock and woven and spun much like cotton or other conventional fabrics. In addition to being fireproof and weavable into cloth, asbestos is an outstanding insulator, has low electrical conductivity, high tensile strength, great flexibility, and is chemically stable. The combination of these unusual properties led to the use of asbestos in an enormous variety of household and industrial applications from ancient times; asbestos has been in use for thousands of years.
History shows that the ancient Egyptians embalmed their pharaohs with asbestos and other civilizations wrapped or "mummified" their dead in materials that contained this substance. Later, it was used to insulate suits of armor. Many experts indicate that asbestos may have been used perhaps as early as 3000 BC - as is evidenced by archaeological digs in areas of Scandinavia where asbestos was found in pottery and similar objects.
In the ancient world, asbestos was considered a nearly magical material – a cloth that would not burn, or a lamp wick which was never entirely consumed. Asbestos wicks were used to light the temples, and funereal clothes for departed kings were woven from asbestos fibers, ensuring that when the ruler was cremated, the ashes of his body would not be mingled with the ashes of the wood used for the pyre. The Greeks even wove asbestos fibers into napkins, a practice later adapted by the Romans, who were said to clean the cloths by tossing them into a fire – the food or stains would burn off, leaving the cloth unsullied. For this reason, the Romans called asbestos "amiantus", Latin for "unspoiled" or "unpolluted".
However, as the use of asbestos cloth spread in the classical era, the ancients also began to notice that there were negative health effects associated with this magical substance. Slaves who were forced to extract the fibers from asbestos-bearing rock and weave the asbestos cloths commonly developed diseases of the lungs. Possibly because of this, the
use of asbestos declined in later centuries and by the Middle Ages the substance was no longer in widespread use, although there were some exceptions. Some historians report that Charlemagne had an asbestos tablecloth for use at state banquets, and it is known that Marco Polo returned from China with reports of items made from asbestos fiber.
Asbestos enjoyed renewed prosperity with the coming of the Industrial Revolution. In the late 1800s, in the early years of commercial asbestos mines, the U.S. found that the mineral was perfect for insulating pipes, boilers, and fireboxes in steam locomotives, a burgeoning mode of transportation in North America. Refrigeration units, boxcars, and cabooses were also lined with asbestos insulation and the use of the material continued even after diesel railroads were introduced.
Trains weren't the only form of transportation that made use of this incredible insulating material. Shipyards were full of asbestos and shipbuilders used the mineral to insulate steam pipes, boilers, hot water pipes, and incinerators, not unlike the railroad industry. Many who built ships, especially during
World War II, were exposed to this dangerous material.
The automotive industry made extensive use of asbestos as well. Clutch and brake linings usually contained asbestos and many cars on the road today still contain parts made with this dangerous substance. The industry that boasted the most widespread use of asbestos was, by far, the building and construction industry. Its insulating and flame-retardant properties made asbestos the perfect material for keeping buildings warm and safe. Not only was asbestos used for insulation in walls but also in such materials as siding, floor and ceiling tiles, roofing tars and shingles, cement pipes, gutters and rainwater pipes, mud and texture coats like stucco, plaster, putty, caulk, and even stage curtains in theaters and schools.
The U.S. Geological Survey estimates that, in all, as many as 3,000 products may, at one time or another, have contained asbestos, including a number of household items that would otherwise seem innocuous, such as hand-held hairdryers, coffee pots, toasters, irons, ironing board covers, electric blankets, and burner pads.
Because asbestos is often found in mined talc and vermiculite, products containing those two substances may contain asbestos as well. Talc-containing products might include cosmetics, baby powder, and feminine hygiene products. Trace amounts of asbestos have also been found in fertilizers, pesticides, potting mixes, and composts, which often employ the use of vermiculite, due to its drainage and aeration properties.
A total of six different types of asbestos are found in the earth and they're categorized into two separate groups: serpentine asbestos has a snake like structure with wavy fibers, and amphibole asbestos is characterized by crystalline needle-like fibers. Serpentine asbestos is generally made up of a compound of magnesium, silicon, hydrogen and oxygen, while amphibole asbestos contains iron, silicon, sodium, oxygen and hydrogen. Because of the very wide variety of sources and types of asbestos, it is common for any particular type of asbestos to contain elements such as quartz, beryl, garnet, feldspar, mica, or clay.
The serpentine group has just one member…Chrysotile. This is the most common type of asbestos, still found in buildings in nearly every developed country throughout the world. Figures show that between 90% and 95% of all asbestos found in buildings and other commercial products that contain asbestos is of the Chrysotile variety. Furthermore, this is the only type which is still mined in parts of the world. Because of its rampant use, Chrysotile accounts for most asbestos-related health problems.
Chrysotile is usually white or green in color and is most often used in insulation and fireproofing products. It can also be woven into asbestos tapes and clothes and is used in the manufacture of cement in the form of sheets, shingles, and pipes. This type of asbestos is also used in a number of friction materials, largely due to its high resistance to heat. These products include automobile brake shoes, disk pads, clutches and elevator brakes. In addition, roof sealants, textiles, plastics, rubbers, door seals for furnaces, high temperature caulking, paper, and components for the nuclear industry contain Chrysotile.
Five kinds of asbestos are members of the amphibole variety. Only two of them were consistently used in commercial applications – Amosite and Crocidolite. These two forms, possessing strong and stiff fibers, are highly dangerous when airborne fibers are inhaled or ingested.
The commercial production of Amosite, also known as "brown asbestos", was halted. Most often used as an insulating material, the use of Amosite has been banned in most countries for several decades. However, at one time, it was the second most-commonly used type of asbestos, accounting for about 5% of the asbestos used in factories and buildings and was sometimes included for anti-condensation and acoustical purposes.
Crocidolite is a rare form of asbestos, bluish in color, and is highly resistant to chemicals. It's believed to be the most lethal form of asbestos and was often used as a reinforcement material for plastics. In the mid-twentieth century, Crocidolite was also used in pre-formed thermal insulation and, prior to that, some yarns and rope lagging contained this form of asbestos.
By the beginning of the twentieth century, the risks of asbestos were becoming obvious to researchers. The inhabitants of asbestos mining towns were riddled with lung problems. During World War One, several studies in the United States found that asbestos workers tended to die young. Finally in 1924, a British physician established that asbestos fibers could enter the lungs and cause a wide variety of very serious ailments, leading to further study of asbestos. By the 1930s, medical science was beginning to explore the connection between asbestos and a particularly deadly strain of asbestos cancer now known as "mesothelioma".
Asbestos is primarily dangerous to human health when the substance is damaged, broken, or exposed to extreme heat. Normally the fibers remain large and stable, and cannot become airborne or enter the body. However, a peculiarity in the structure of asbestos fibers means that when stressed or damaged, they have a strong tendency to fracture into many much smaller fibers. These fibers in turn can split, until one large fiber is eventually the source of hundreds or even thousands of tiny fibers. These fibers are so small and so insidious that they can easily become airborne and breathed into the lungs of people nearby. When this occurs, the fibers penetrate the lungs, heart, and membranes of the body and cause a variety of syndromes and diseases, including asbestosis, lung cancer, gastrointestinal cancer, and malignant mesothelioma. The problem with asbestos is the long latency period between initial exposure and the onset of the disease, often between 20 to 40 years. There are four main types of asbestos-related disease: pleural plaques, diffuse pleural thickening, asbestosis and mesothelioma. Mesothelioma is the cancer caused by exposure to asbestos and as yet there is no cure. Once diagnosed, the life expectancy of the sufferer is usually between 3 and 18 months.
Despite these health risks, asbestos continued in very wide use throughout the 20th century, until growing public awareness of the danger and anger at the asbestos industry for concealing the risks prompted a political outcry and led to regulatory action. Amphibole asbestos, which is considerably more dangerous to human health, has been banned globally since the 1980s. Although the use of most asbestos products has long been banned in most developed countries, many buildings still contain some form of this dangerous mineral.
The owner of Adirondack Environmental Associates (AEA), was convicted of performing asbestos removal and abatement procedures that left significant amounts of the hazardous material in areas where human exposures were either possible or had actually occurred. He was also convicted of violating the Clean Air Act by falsifying asbestos air quality tests directly related to their fraudulent asbestos removal "rip and run" scam.
Because of the serious threat to health posed by improper asbestos handling procedures, he now faces 25 years to life in prison and up to a $1.25 million fine.
45-year-old businessman of Utica, NY, has been indicted—along with his father and brother—for violations of the federal Clean Air Act and the Superfund Act for illegally removing asbestos from numerous sites in Upstate New York. They have also been charged with conspiracy to commit mail fraud and to defraud the United States. Another brother has pleaded guilty to similar charges and admitted to dumping asbestos along roadsides. The businessman was convicted before of illegal asbestos removal in 2004, and he now faces a sentence of up to 55 years in federal prison and a maximum $2.75 million fine if convicted on the pending charges
Working in an American shipyard during WWII turned out to be almost as deadly as fighting in the war. The combat death rate was 18 per 1000. As many as 14 per 1000 shipyard workers died from asbestos-related cancer and an unknown number beyond that from asbestosis complications.
A maintenance worker for a furniture manufacturing company died after falling headfirst into a sawdust silo. The silo was 17 feet in diameter, 36 feet high, and had a 24-inch diameter man-hole. The victim was responsible for operating the silo. He would normally climb a staircase attached to the side of the silo, remove the manhole cover and rake the sawdust away from the inlet duct with a 10-foot-long aluminum-handled rake. Evidence indicates that the victim slipped and fell seven feet into the sawdust, submerging his torso in the material. He died of suffocation in an upside-down position. The victim's employer had failed to develop or implement a con-fined space safety work program for employees who worked in or near confined spaces containing unstable material. Appropriate fall protection equipment was not provided to workers.
The body of a worker was found in a gasoline delivery manhole measuring 36 inches in diameter by six feet deep. This was a permit-required confined space. The victim had been working in the manhole without any protection and asphyxiated after inhaling gasoline vapors. After an investigation, the employer was cited for failing to conduct or provide:
(1) A written permit-required confined space program,
(2) A hazard evaluation,
(3) Adequate training,
(4) Protective equipment or clothing.
An employee from an electroplating company was overcome by cyanide gas while cleaning the interior of a wastewater treatment tank containing toxic acids and cyanide sludge. When a second employee entered the tank to rescue the co-worker, he was overcome by the fumes and died. Several other employees were hospitalized as a result of their involvement in the rescue and cleanup operations. Criminal charges were filed through the District Attorney's Office and a $741,000 fine was assessed. The employer was cited for a number of safety violations, including failing to (1) prevent unauthorized entry into a confined space; (2) develop and implement a confined space program; (3) specify acceptable entry conditions; (4) label tanks to indicate their contents; and (5) test for oxygen deficiency.
Asbestos is the name given to a group of six different naturaly occurring fibrous minerals (amosite, chrysotile, crocidolite, and the fibrous varieties of tremolite, actinolite, and anthophyllite) that occur naturally in the environment. Asbestos minerals have separable long fibers that are strong and flexible enough to be spun and woven and are heat resistant. Because of these characteristics, asbestos has been used for a wide range of manufactured goods, mostly in building materials (roofing shingles, ceiling and floor tiles, paper products, and asbestos cement products), friction products (automobile clutch, brake, and transmission parts), heat-resistant fabrics, packaging, gaskets, and coatings. Some vermiculite or talc products may contain asbestos.
Asbestos fibers can enter the air or water from the breakdown of natural deposits and manufactured asbestos products. Asbestos fibers do not evaporate into air or dissolve in water. Small diameter fibers and particles may remain suspended in the air for a long time and be carried long distances by wind or water before settling down. Larger diameter fibers and particles tend to settle more quickly. Asbestos fibers are not able to move through soil. Asbestos fibers are generally not broken down to other compounds and will remain virtually unchanged over long periods.
We are all exposed to low levels of asbestos in the air we breathe. These levels range from 0.00001 to 0.0001 fibers per milliliter of air and generally are highest in cities and industrial areas. People working in industries that make or use asbestos products or who are involved in asbestos mining may be exposed to high levels of asbestos. People living near these industries may also be exposed to high levels of asbestos in air. Asbestos fibers may be released into the air by the disturbance of asbestos-containing material during product use, demolition work, building or home maintenance, repair, and remodeling. In general, exposure may occur only when the asbestos-containing material is disturbed in some way to release particles and fibers into the air. Drinking water may contain asbestos from natural sources or from asbestos-containing cement pipes.
Asbestos mainly affects the lungs and the membrane that surrounds the lungs. Breathing high levels of asbestos fibers for a long time may result in scar-like tissue in the lungs and in the pleural membrane (lining) that surrounds the lung. This disease is called asbestosis and is usually found in workers exposed to asbestos, but not in the general public. People with asbestosis have difficulty breathing, often a cough, and in severe cases heart enlargement. Asbestosis is a serious disease and can eventually lead to disability and death.
Breathing lower levels of asbestos may result in changes called plaques in the pleural membranes. Pleural plaques can occur in workers and sometimes in people living in areas with high environmental levels of asbestos. Effects on breathing from pleural plaques alone are not usually serious, but higher exposure can lead to a thickening of the pleural membrane that may restrict breathing.
The Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS), the World Health Organization (WHO), and the EPA have determined that asbestos is a human carcinogen. It is known that breathing asbestos can increase the risk of cancer in people. There are two types of cancer caused by exposure to asbestos: lung cancer and mesothelioma. Mesothelioma is a cancer of the thin lining surrounding the lung (pleural membrane) or abdominal cavity (the peritoneum). Cancer from asbestos does not develop immediately, but shows up after a number of years. Studies of workers also suggest that breathing asbestos can increase chances of getting cancer in other parts of the body (stomach, intestines, esophagus, pancreas, and kidneys), but this is less certain. Early identification and treatment of any cancer can increase an individual's quality of life and survival. Cigarette smoke and asbestos together significantly increase your chances of getting lung cancer. Therefore, if you have been exposed to asbestos you should stop smoking. This may be the most important action that you can take to improve your health and decrease your risk of cancer.
Low levels of asbestos fibers can be measured in urine, feces, mucus, or lung washings of the general public. Higher than average levels of asbestos fibers in tissue can confirm exposure but not determine whether you will experience any health effects. A thorough history, physical exam, and diagnostic tests are needed to evaluate asbestos-related disease. Chest x-rays are the best screening tool to identify lung changes resulting from asbestos exposure. Lung function tests and CAT scans also assist in the diagnosis of asbestos-related disease.
Materials containing asbestos that are not disturbed or deteriorated do not, in general, pose a health risk and must be left alone. If you are not trained and certified to handle asbestos containing materials and suspect materials in your work place contain asbestos and that an exposure hazard exists, do not disturb it, and contact your supervisor so they can notify the director of health and safety. If you are trained and certified to handle asbestos containing materials you must adhere to and further strive to exceed the regulatory requirements as set forth in this program.