Asbestos is a term to describe six naturally occurring mineral fibers that are commonly found in a wide array of building construction materials due to the fiber strength and heat resistant properties. When asbestos containing materials become damaged or are disturbed during repair, remodeling or demolition activities; microscopic fibers become airborne. Asbestos fibers are so tiny and light that they can remain airborne for many hours. When inhaled, they can cause health problems. The three (3) most common types of asbestos are chrysotile, amosite and crocidolite. The lesser common types are tremolite, anthophyllite, and actinolite. Nearly 95% of all asbestos in the United States is chrysotile.

The Environmental Protection Agency classifies asbestos-containing building materials (ACBM) into three (3) general categories.

  • Surfacing Materials
    • Any material that has been sprayed-on or troweled-on, or otherwise applied to surfaces. Textured ceilings, joint compound, and fireproofing are some examples of surfacing materials.
  • Thermal System Insulation (TSI)
    • Any material applied to pipes, fittings, boilers, breeching, tanks, ducts, or other interior mechanical components designed to prevent heat loss or water condensation.
  • Miscellaneous Materials
    • Any material that is not surfacing or thermal system insulation. Floor tiles, ceiling tiles, and transite board are some examples of miscellaneous materials.

The condition of asbestos containing materials is classified according to its friability, the current state of condition and its potential for disturbance. Friability is determined by the ability, when dry, to be crumbled, pulverized, or reduced to powder by hand pressure. The current state of condition is broken up into three categories

  • Significantly Damaged
    • Over 10% evenly distributed damage or over 25% of the localized damage.
  • Damaged
    • Less than 10% evenly distributed damage or less than 25% of the localized damage.
  • Good
    • No visible damage or very little damage.

The potential for disturbance is categorized by answering three (3) questions with high, moderate or low. The three questions are as follows,

  • The potential for contact with the material?
  • The influence of vibration on the material?
  • The potential for air erosion on the material?

Any question with a high answer shows potential for significant damage, any question answered with moderate shows potential for damage and all questions answered with low shows low potential.

The Environmental Protection Agency established the National Emission Standards for Hazardous Air Pollutants, 40 CFR 61, regulation to require the owner of a demolition or renovation activity and prior to commencement of the demolition or renovation, to thoroughly inspect the affected facility or part of the facility where the demolition or renovation operation will occur for the presence of asbestos. EPA defines a facility as any institutional, commercial, public, industrial, or residential structure, installation or building. It includes any structure, installation, or building containing condominiums or individual dwelling units operated as a residential cooperative, but excludes residential buildings having four or fewer dwelling units.

The State of New Hampshire established Env-A 1800 (Asbestos Management and Control) to better deal with asbestos within residential buildings. Under Env-A 1804.01, the State of New Hampshire requires that the owner/operator of a facility has an asbestos survey completed on the affected portion(s) prior to undertaking any demolition or renovation activity. According to Env-A 1802.31, the State of New Hampshire defines a facility as any institutional, commercial, public, or private building or structure, work place, ship, installation, active waste disposal site, inactive waste disposal site operated after July 9, 1981, or rental dwelling.

Asbestos samples of suspect materials were collected as described below according to type and quantity of material per homogeneous area. A homogeneous area is defined as a suspect material of similar age, appearance, function and texture.