Asbestos - What is it?
Asbestos is a generic term for a group of minerals known for their strength, flame and heat resistance, and seemingly indestructible qualities.
Once considered a “miracle mineral,” asbestos was used for many years in building construction. It can be found in many forms and places. Asbestos was used in boiler and pipe insulation, plasters, floor tile, electrical insulation, and as a fireproofing material on structural members in buildings. It has also been sprayed on ceilings and walls as acoustic insulation.
Because of its indestructible qualities, asbestos is harmful to the human body. The body cannot digest, break down, or change asbestos; it can only attempt to encapsulate it with scar tissue.
Several types of asbestos were banned by the EPA in the mid-70’s due to concern over the health effects (especially cancer) associated with exposure to such materials. It is important to remember that asbestos generally has been found to be hazardous to humans when it is inhaled into the lungs.
Asbestos occurs naturally as a fiber; individual fibers are so small they are invisible to the naked eye. Most asbestos is not hazardous in its original, undisturbed state; only when it is disturbed or pulverized does it release asbestos fibers.
Symptoms of asbestos-related diseases do not occur soon after exposure. Those who are sick today because of asbestos may have been exposed 20 to 40 years ago. Controlling exposures now will prevent disease and suffering decades later.
Asbestos Abatement Procedure at LaGuardia
The Environmental health and Safety Officer (EHSO) is responsible for coordinating asbestos removal projects at LaGuardia Community College. Asbestos is removed only when required for renovation, remodeling or maintenance. This usually involves repairing plumbing, removing floor tiles or anything else that contains asbestos in some areas on our college property. It is the responsibility of campus maintenance personnel, facilities planning and design personnel or contractors to coordinate with EHSO for inspection and/or removal of asbestos
Not every pipe and floor tile contains asbestos material, but whether it does or not cannot be determined by the naked eye. Samples of the suspect material collected by licensed consultants are analyzed under a microscope by a certified and independent laboratory. Every sample is considered positive until proven otherwise by a lab analysis.
EHSO selects the vendors to provide the asbestos abatement work and to conduct the independent third party monitoring of the projects on behalf of the College. In order to avoid a conflict of interest, and to ensure the contractor adheres to all applicable rules and regulations, the abatement work and the monitoring are done by two different vendors who are not associated with each other.
All abatement and removal is conducted according to rules and regulations set forth by the New York City Department of Environmental Protection (NYC DEP), unless otherwise required by a higher governing agency. The rules of the NYC DEP for asbestos removal can be accessed at: New York City Department of Environmental Protection Asbestos Rules
Emergency removal is conducted when asbestos has been accidentally disturbed. Every effort is made to return the affected area to its normal occupancy as soon as possible.
Abatement is done inside enclosures to prevent the fibers from spreading. Air handling units serving the affected area are turned off until the work is completed to keep the fibers from spreading to other areas. To prevent any attached fibers from getting into the surrounding air, the work area is always kept under negative air pressure as required by the rules. During the work, only authorized personnel can access the work area and a 25 foot boundary is imposed for other occupants of the building.
When a job has been completed, samples of the surrounding air are analyzed under a phase-contrast microscope. Based upon the results, the area is either cleared or re-cleaned and re-sampled. If the area is declared "clear," it is opened to normal occupancy and all warning signs are removed.
All asbestos related project documents are kept in the Office of Environmental Health and Safety
Phone: Extension 5507