Environmental Health & Safety


Asbestos Containing Building Materials Fact Sheet

Asbestos is a general name for a group of six naturally-occurring minerals composed of small fibrous crystals. Because of its insulating properties, its fire resistance, and it strength, asbestos was commonly used in many building materials until the late 1970's. Various diseases have been associated with industrial inhalation exposure to asbestos fibers, and the extensive use of asbestos in building materials has raised some concern about exposure in non-industrial settings. The presence of asbestos in a building does not mean that the health of building occupants is endangered. As long as asbestos-containing materials remain in good condition and are not disturbed or damaged, exposure is unlikely. However, damaged, deteriorated, or disturbed asbestos-containing materials can lead to fiber release and the potential for exposure, and unauthorized removal or disturbance of asbestos containing materials is not allowed; it is potentially unhealthy and it is also illegal. Only trained, certified workers should handle or remove asbestos-containing materials. Unauthorized or uncontrolled disturbance of asbestos materials is a violation of UNCW policy and can lead to civil or criminal liability under EPA or OSHA regulations.

Types of Asbestos Containing Building Materials

The following are some types of materials that may contain asbestos:

  • floor tile & linoleum
  • boiler and tank insulation
  • ceiling tiles
  • fireproofing
  • adhesives & mastic
  • gaskets
  • fume hood panels
  • plaster
  • pipe insulation
  • HVAC duct wrap
  • lab countertops
  • roofing
  • pipe fittings
  • fire doors
  • chalkboard glue
  • siding shingles

Suspect building materials must be treated as if they contain asbestos until laboratory testing proves that they do not. If you have any questions about whether a material contains asbestos, ask your supervisor to call UNCW's Environmental Health & Safety Department at (910) 962-3057.

Asbestos Guidelines

  • Do not damage, disturb, or remove asbestos-containing materials. Only trained and certified workers may handle or remove asbestos-containing materials.
  • Promptly report potential asbestos debris or damaged asbestos materials that you see to your supervisor. (The materials may have been tested or, if not, will be sampled and tested). When in doubt, ask.
  • If you see improper cleaning or maintenance activities being done on suspect materials, see that they are stopped and contact your supervisor or EH&S.