Asbestos is a naturally occuring fibrous mineral used historically for insulation, fireproofing and increasing the strength of materials. It is also a hazardous air polutant that has been directly linked to serious illnesses such as lung cancer, asbestosis and mesothelioma.
Intact, an asbestos containing material (ACM) is safe. Once damaged, the ACM can release the hazardous asbestos fibers into the air where they can be inhaled and cause the illnesses described above.
The most commonly encountered forms of ACMs are floor tile, floor tile mastic, carpet and baseboard mastics, ceiling tiles, acoustical plaster, drywall mud, certain wallpapers, insulation for pipes, fittings and tanks, firedoors, elevator brake pads, transite panels, benchtops and fume hood linings. Any of these materials, if manufactured and installed before 1990, may contain asbestos and should be considered suspect. If you note damage to any of these, notify Physical Plant Work Order Desk 753-1741 or Mary Schlagel at the Department of Environmental Health and Safety, 753-1577.