Each state has different laws, policies, and procedures on how to deal with asbestos and asbestos exposure. Illinois is no different. Let’s take a look at how property owners should deal with Asbestos Containing Material(ACM)-related issues in their buildings.

This information comes directly from the state of Illinois and the EPA. Talking to an asbestos contractor is still imperative, as only certified professionals should create and enact plans of action related to asbestos.

Where Would I Find Asbestos in My Building?

Asbestos was used for many years in some very specific roles. Locating potential asbestos issues should always consider the following uses:

  • As a building material additive to enhance strength (for example, asbestos was added to concrete, asphalt, and vinyl materials in roof shingles, pipes, siding, wallboard, floor tiles, joint compounds, and adhesives)
  • As a fireproofing material applied on steel beams and columns during construction of multistory buildings
  • As thermal insulation and as a means of controlling condensation
  • As an ingredient in acoustical plaster
  • As a component of a mixture sprayed on ceilings and walls to produce a soft, textured appearance

Be sure to mention any of the above when you contact a professional to help with ACM evaluations. DO NOT try to conduct any evaluations or removal without professional help.

When is ACM a problem?

When Are ACMs Considered a Problem?

If ACM is in good condition and left in place, it should not present health risks. However, if the ACM has been damaged or is crumbling, or if a building is to be demolished, renovated, or remodeled, care must be taken to prevent the release of asbestos fibers into the air. Inhalation of microscopic asbestos fibers from friable ACM can cause health risks. Once inhaled, asbestos fibers can become lodged in tissue for a long time and can cause cancer.

Asbestos can also cause asbestos-related diseases or problems such as asbestosis, a progressive, disabling, and potentially fatal disease; mesothelioma, a rare cancer of the mesothelium, the thin tissue layer that lines body cavities and surrounds internal organs; and pleural plaques, scar tissue in the chest cavity. 

Asbestos Exposure to ACM

The number of fibers a person must inhale to develop asbestos-related diseases is not known. At very low exposure levels (such as being in the same room as a cracked tile containing asbestos), the risks can be negligible. However, during demolition, renovation, and removal activities, risks from exposure greatly increase. Also, smoking greatly increases the risk of asbestos-related lung cancer. Almost all known cases of asbestos-related lung cancer occurred among people who smoked and were exposed to asbestos.

Because asbestos presents a significant risk to human health when released into the air, asbestos is considered a hazardous air pollutant regulated under the National Emission Standards for Hazardous Air Pollutants (NESHAP) regulations.

If the materials discussed above contain more than one percent asbestos as determined by a professional, they are considered asbestos-containing materials (ACM). ACM can be friable or nonfriable. When dry, friable ACM can be crumbled or reduced to a powder by hand pressure and presents greater health risks to human health than non-friable ACM. When dry, non-friable ACM cannot be crumbled or reduced to powder by hand pressure.

Illinois Environmental Contractors Association Resources

For more information on finding a local contractor to assist with asbestos information, remediation, or removal check the resources below:

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