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Asbestos Awareness. Updated: December 2007. Asbestos Awareness. Purpose of training:. Provide all employees with basic information about asbestos and its hazards and proper protection measures, Identify typical asbestos-containing materials (ACM’s) within employee work areas,

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asbestos awareness

Asbestos Awareness


December 2007

asbestos awareness1
Asbestos Awareness

Purpose of training:

  • Provide all employees with basic information about asbestos and its hazards and proper protection measures,
  • Identify typical asbestos-containing materials (ACM’s) within employee work areas,
  • This training does not qualify employees to work with asbestos-containing materials

What is Asbestos?

  • Naturally occurring fibrous mineral
  • Six different forms of asbestos

Chrysotile - most common type in US (95%)

Amosite - 2nd most common (2-3%)

Crocidolite - 3rd most common (1-2%)




asbestos source
Asbestos Source
  • Asbestos is a naturally occurring mineral.
  • It is mined from the ground
    • Canada, Russia, Africa, and formerly in the Unites States
asbestos awareness2
Asbestos Awareness
  • What makes asbestos desirable?
  • Abundant
  • Cheap
  • What makes it unique?
  • Fibers breakdown into microscopic fibers rather than dust particles.
asbestos value
Asbestos Value
  • Why is asbestos so commonly used?
  • It is a good insulator
  • It holds up well to heat, - fireproof under normal fire situations
  • When added to other materials, it strengthens them
  • It doesn’t rot and is impervious to most chemicals
two application examples
Two Application Examples
  • Asbestos strengthens concrete-
    • Concrete water mains and concrete board in the form of 4 x 8 sheets and shingle siding, owe their strength to asbestos fibers.
  • Asbestos has excellent insulating properties-
  • Boilers and steam pipes were insulated with asbestos containing material.
  • These materials often contain almost 100% asbestos with only enough binder material to keep it in place
hazardous characteristics
Hazardous Characteristics
  • What makes asbestos dangerous?
    • Extremely small fibers are very aerodynamic.
    • Remains airborne for very long periods.
    • Asbestos is a fiber that can be continually broken donw and still remain a fiber while typical materials breakdown to particles.
    • Asbestos will divide into microscopic fibers that are 1200 times smaller than a human hair (see photo).
  • .

Human hair

Asbestos fibers

historical perspective
Historical Perspective
  • During the 1930s, it was found that it improved almost any material that it was added to. It was sold as, and truly was, the “Miracle Fiber”
  • As was discovered later, it is not a healthy thing to expose people to asbestos fiber.
fire scene caution
Fire Scene Caution
  • The lack of awareness or knowledge of the health dangers caused an uncontrolled and unregulated use of asbestos.
historical perspective1
Historical Perspective
  • Asbestos use continued long after there was an indication that it created health problems in exposed people, but finally in the mid 1970s the government begin to curtail the use of asbestos.
  • Friable vs. Non-friable
  • Friable - easily crumbled to powder using hand pressure (high likelihood of airborne exposure)
    • Spray fireproofing
    • Pipe insulation
  • Nonfriable - not easily crumbled by hand but can be crumbled by mechanical means (possibility of airborne exposure)
    • Floor tile
    • Roofing products
    • Siding materials
non friable asbestos warning
Non Friable Asbestos Warning
  • When non-friable asbestos containing material (ACM) is subjected to intense heat, weather or mechanical forces, such as those encountered during structural fires, demolition or renovation, it can be crumbled, pulverized, or reduced to powder, and thereby release asbestos fibers.
asbestos presence
Asbestos Presence
  • How is asbestos presence determined?
  • Laboratory analysis with microscope
  • Puget Sound Clean Air Agency requires certified inspection of all demolition projects in King County.
  • Certified contractors are required for removal of asbestos prior to demolition.
asbestos containing materials
Asbestos Containing Materials

Pipe Insulation

Siding Materials

Roll Roofing

Floor Tiles

asbestos containing materials1
Asbestos Containing Materials

Old Wire Insulation

Fire Door Core

Ceiling Tile

Roofing Mastic

asbestos containing materials2
Asbestos Containing Materials

Spray-on Ceilings

Ceiling/Wall Coverings

acm summary
ACM Summary
  • Common asbestos-containing materials

Pipe, boiler and duct insulation

Sprayed or troweled plaster

Spray fire proofing

Cement pipes and panels

Mechanical gaskets and packing

Ceiling tiles

Popcorn ceiling

Floor tile and adhesive

Linoleum backing

asbestos in the fire building
Asbestos in the Fire Building
  • Almost any material subjected to intense heat will burn away - except for asbestos
  • To the firefighter working in a structure fire with ACM’s present, this means that you are working in a friable asbestos atmosphere.
asbestos in the fire building1
Asbestos in the Fire Building
  • The hazardous and toxic atmosphere created by the fire often dissipates relatively quickly.
  • The hazardous atmosphere created by the release of asbestos fiber does not.
asbestos in the fire building2
Asbestos in the Fire Building
  • The fibers that have the greatest potential for respiratory damage can’t be seen.
  • These fibers can remain airborne for hours and in the area indefinitely.
  • The SCBA worn by the firefighter will protect from this exposure.
asbestos in the fire building3
Asbestos in the Fire Building
  • Most filter masks, dust masks, won’t filter these small fibers.
  • The HEPA filter half-mask (magenta cartridge) may stop some of the asbestos.
  • Filter masks are not appropriate for asbestos exposure.
asbestos in the fire building4
Asbestos in the Fire Building
  • Protect your respiratory system by wearing SCBA during the fire and during salvage and overhaul.
post fire operations
Post Fire Operations
  • Respiratory protection- SCBA’s- must be used during the fire investigation period if the damaged area is suspected to have asbestos contamination.
  • Once you suspect that an area is contaminated, it is not easy to change that suspicion.
  • There is no acceptable reason to allow an unmasked person, Fire Investigator, Fire Marshal or Chief, into a suspected contaminated area.
response to asbestos abatement sites
Response to Asbestos Abatement Sites
  • A Fire Call to a building where asbestos is being removed adds a new dimension.
    • Exits can be compromised by the “containment”.
    • The negative air machines are drawing air towards the containment.
    • The containment area is contaminated with asbestos fiber.
response to asbestos abatement sites non fire
Response to Asbestos Abatement Sites (Non-Fire)
  • An EMS call for a worker in “containment” must be handled as a HazMat call by the medics.
    • Entry into the containment requires full protective gear.
    • The victim and all medics and equipment must be decontaminated prior to loading and transport.
health issues
Health Issues

Health hazards of asbestos exposure

  • Asbestosis - fribrotic scaring of the lungs
    • 10-20 year latency period
    • Associated with high dose exposure
    • Smoking creates synergistic effect
    • Increased chance of other asbestos diseases

*Symptoms of asbestosis include shortness of breath and a dry crackling sound in the lungs while inhaling

health issues1
Health Issues

Health hazards of asbestos exposure

  • Mesothelioma - cancer of the chest cavity
    • 20-40 year latency period
    • Not necessarily associated with high dose exposure
    • Rare
    • Almost always fatal
health issues2
Health Issues

Health hazards of asbestos exposure

  • Lung cancer
    • 20-30 year latency period
    • Many other causes of lung cancer
    • Most frequent form of asbestos disease today
    • Smoking synergistic effect (50-90 times)
    • Associated with high doses

Asbestos is extensively regulated!

  • Regulated by:
    • State and federal OSHA
    • Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)

OSHA Regulations

  • Requires employee training (i.e. This training)
  • Exposure monitoring when working with asbestos
  • Establishes “permissible exposure level” for employees = 0.01 fibers per cubic centimeter (cc) of air (1 cc is approximately a sugar cube)
  • Identifies work practices
  • Identifies personal protection requirements
  • Identifies work practice prohibitions

EPA Regulations

  • Requires building survey prior to construction work
  • Removal of asbestos containing materials before renovation or demolition
  • Establishes notification requirements
  • Defines proper transport and disposal requirements
  • EPA regulates asbestos in schools
fire incident decontamination
Fire Incident Decontamination


  • Gross decontamination of firefighters prior to removal of SCBA face piece after operating in suspected hazardous areas.
  • Proper decontamination and controls of suspected contaminated protective clothing.
  • Protects firefighters health and well being.
personal responsibility
Personal Responsibility

Your responsibilities:

  • Do not damage or disturb any asbestos-containing materials
  • Immediately report the presence of damaged asbestos-containing or suspect asbestos-containing material to your supervisor.