Asbestos Containing Building Materials Are Not Always Limited to Pre-1970’s Buildings

Contrary to popular opinion, it is still possible to find asbestos in buildings – lots of it in fact! The EPA banned the installation of asbestos fireproofing in buildings in the early 1970’s. U.S. manufacturers voluntarily quit making asbestos floor tile in 1982 but no one knows when the last asbestos floor tile was installed in a building. As recently as 2007 it was possible to buy roof patching that contained asbestos at virtually any hardware store in America!

Potential Locations of Asbestos Containing Building Materials

One of our California Cal-OSHA Certified Asbestos Consultants recently conducted an asbestos building survey at a retail store in the San Francisco Bay Area that was constructed in 2005. The results of the asbestos testing showed that the mastic used to adhere the mirrors contained regulated levels of asbestos.  The results came as a big surprise to the building owner who was now obligated to have the mirror mastic removed using a certified asbestos abatement contractor.

Asbestos building products were the industry norm from the mid-1940’s to the mid-1970’s. I’ve personally surveyed hundreds of buildings and collected hundred of asbestos samples in all types of buildings – schools, hospitals, office buildings, residential, commercial. Every single building I survey that was constructed between 1947 and 1976 contained at least one building material that contained regulated levels of asbestos. Some materials are obvious such as asbestos cement siding (often referred to by its trade name “transite”) but virtually all other materials must be tested at a NVLAP certified laboratory.  Examples of building materials that can contain asbestos are that should be sampled prior to renovation or demolition of a building include: floor tile, linoleum, drywall and joint compound, ceiling tiles, roofing materials and pipe insulation.

JoAnn Copperud, CEO – Emeryville, CA


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