Table of Contents:

Purpose of Awareness Training

What is Asbestos?

Health Effects Associated with Exposure

Locations and Types of Asbestos

Recognition of Damage

Emergency Procedures and Contacts

Rules and Regulations

Operations and Maintenance (O&M)


The purpose of Asbestos Awareness Training is to provide employees with the basic information and hazards associated with Asbestos. This training will also assist in identifying typical asbestos containing material in employee working areas. This training does not qualify employees to work with asbestos containing materials. East Tennessee State University does have trained and qualified asbestos workers to remove or repair asbestos containing materials during operation and maintenance activities.

What is Asbestos?

Asbestos is the name given to a naturally fibrous mineral over 2,000 years ago and was used as an insulator and fireproofing. Asbestos contain fibers that cleave into smaller fibers and cannot be seen with the naked eye. Asbestos fibers can remain airborne for hours or days and potentially can be inhaled in the lungs.

There are three common forms of asbestos used in the United States. Chrysotile, which is white in color and the most common, Amosite, which is brown in color and the second most common and Crocidolite, which is blue in color is the third most common form.

Asbestos is either friable or non-friable. Friable asbestos means that are easily crumbled to a dust using hand pressure (spray fireproofing, pipe insulation). Non-friable asbestos means that is not easily crumbled by hand (floor tile, mastic). Non-friable asbestos can become friable by a mechanical means of drilling, sanding, etc. Asbestos in generally is not harmful, unless the characterization of the material is releasing fibers in the air where they can be inhaled or ingested.

Asbestos was primarily used in building materials prior to 1981. To determine if materials contain asbestos, the material must be sent for laboratory analysis using a microscope. Do Not attempt to remove building materials for laboratory analysis as this may possibly release asbestos fibers and make them airborne.

Health Effects of Asbestos Exposure

Many of the fibers can become trapped in the mucous membranes of the nose and throat where they can then be removed, but some may pass deep into the lungs, or, if swallowed, into the digestive tract. There are three main diseases associated with asbestos, which are Asbestosis, Mesothelioma, and Lung Cancer.

Asbestosis is caused by inhaling asbestos fibers that irritate and inflame lung tissues and cause the tissues to scar. There is a latency period of 10-20 years.

Mesothelioma is a rare form of cancer that is found in the thin lining (membrane) of the lung, chest, abdomen, and heart and almost all cases are linked to exposure to asbestos. This disease may not show up until many years after asbestos exposure. The latency period is usually 20-40 years.

Lung Cancer is the most frequent form of asbestos disease today. The latency period is usually 20-30 years. Smoking increases your chances (~50 times) of contracting this disease due to deadening of the cilia to remove fibers.

Locations and Type of Asbestos

Any building built prior to 1981, has the potential to have asbestos located somewhere in that building. The Tennessee Board of Reagents (TBR) contracted with Terracon to conduct an assessment of asbestos containing materials across ETSU campus. For detailed information on the assessment contact EH&S at 439-6028.

The most common types of asbestos associated here at ETSU are in a non-friable state. The following non-friable materials are 9" x 9" floor tiles, old 12" x 12" floor tiles, adhesive mastic, laboratory tops, and under coatings on sinks. There are some friable asbestos in mechanical room insulation piping, spray fireproofing on ceilings and plaster.

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Recognition of Damage

If there is any deterioration, water damage or physical damage to asbestos materials or suspect asbestos materials, Do Not attempt to clean up and report to your supervisor or EH&S.

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Emergency Procedures and Contacts

Do not clean up suspect asbestos-containing material, secure the area, and immediately report the presence of damaged suspect asbestos-containing material to your supervisor or EH&S at 439-6028.

Rules and Regulations

Asbestos is regulated by Tennessee Occupational Safety and Health Association (TOSHA), Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), and Tennessee Department of Environmental Compliance. ETSU also has an Asbestos Policy at the following location

Operations & Maintenance (O&M)

If you are completing maintenance activities and suspect asbestos containing materials, contact EH&S prior to performing work. ETSU have several qualified asbestos personnel that can do minor removal and repair. They will only be able to remove less than 160 square feet or 260 linear feet of asbestos. This type of activity must be scheduled and coordinated with EH&S prior to activity.

Any Asbestos that is removed in excess of 160 square feet or 260 linear feet will be completed by a qualified Asbestos removal company. The contractor must abide by all State and Federal regulations in regards to Asbestos abatement.