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 May 2005 Feature
Andrew F. Oberta, MPH, CIH, is an internationally recognized expert on managing asbestos-containing materials. He also produces training and information technology products for asbestos control. He serves as chairman of Task Group E06.24.03 on Asbestos Management and is the author of the ASTM Manual on Asbestos Control: Surveys, Removal and Management.

Standards for Asbestos Control

A Holistic Approach to Managing a Health Hazard

For more than 100 years, asbestos has taken a toll in human health that is measured in countless deaths and disabilities worldwide. This tragic situation has resulted from people inhaling the microscopic fibers (Figure 1) in their workplaces, homes and communities. Exposure occurs during mining the ore and milling it to extract the fiber, manufacturing and installing products containing asbestos, maintaining and renovating buildings in which it is installed, and eventually removing and disposing of the material. Diseases caused by inhaling asbestos fibers include: asbestosis – scarring of the lungs; lung cancer – exacerbated by smoking; and mesothelioma – cancer of the lung and abdominal cavities. Because of the long latency period for these diseases, new cases continue to appear and will do so for many years into the future.

While many countries have banned the use of asbestos in products, workers in buildings where it is already installed remain at risk. With the focus on hazards from asbestos-containing materials (ACM) in buildings, it was appropriate for ASTM Committee E06 on Performance of Buildings to develop standards for controlling these hazards. This effort began in 1986 with the formation of Task Group E06.24.03 on Asbestos Management, which developed the three standards discussed in this article:

E 1368, Practice for Visual Inspection of Asbestos Abatement Projects;
E 2356, Practice for Comprehensive Building Asbestos Surveys; and
E 2394, Practice for Maintenance, Renovation and Repair of Installed Asbestos Cement Products.

These standards chart a logical course for the owner or manager of a building – or any type of facility – to find out if ACM are present and, if so, to take appropriate action. Figure 2 shows the relationship between these standards and the activities they cover. (For an in-depth discussion of these standards, see the recently-published ASTM Manual on Asbestos Control: Surveys, Removal and Management – Second Edition.)


E 2356 – published in July 2004 — is the starting point in the process, as it tells how to find and take samples of materials that might contain asbestos, how to have them analyzed and how to assess the hazards from those that contain asbestos. The assessment lets the building owner prioritize response actions and decide which ACM to remove and which to leave alone (but not ignore).

E 2356 describes two types of asbestos surveys. The baseline survey provides information on which to base a long-term management program if ACM are found. The project design survey provides additional information needed to prepare the plans and specifications for an abatement project, which usually consists of removing the ACM.

Baseline surveys are sometimes called “AHERA surveys” because the accepted approach before E 2356 was to follow the procedures for schools in the Environmental Protection Agency’s regulations that were published in 1987 under the Asbestos Hazard Emergency Response Act. These procedures unfortunately contain a number of exclusions from sampling and assessment requirements that become evident in industrial and other types of facilities outside the school setting. E 2356 remedies these deficiencies: all suspect materials are sampled, analyzed and assessed regardless of their friability and location. Also, the analytical requirements of E 2356 are more stringent and recognize advances in laboratory procedures since the AHERA regulations were published. (For information on standards developed by ASTM Subcommittee D22.07 on Sampling and Analysis of Asbestos, see “Developing ASTM Standards for Monitoring Asbestos,” SN, April 2004.)

The project design survey supplements the results of a baseline survey by collecting information that has little or nothing to do with bulk samples, including:

• Limits of abatement and phasing of the work;
• Locations of water and power for the contractor’s use;
• Locations where ACM must be left in place; and
• Essential building functions that must be maintained, such as HVAC, security and emergency egress.

E 2356 discusses 18 such items that must be covered in the plans and specifications.

At 40 pages, E 2356 is one of the longer standards ASTM has published, due mainly to the three extensive appendices. One contains detailed instructions for collecting bulk samples from 18 types of friable and non-friable materials: fireproofing, pipe insulation (Figure 3), floor tile, etc. A second appendix contains a template for collecting information and reporting the results for a baseline survey. The third appendix con- tains the qualitative and quantitative assessment protocols, including an innovative approach that displays the results on decision charts. These charts help one visualize the priorities for response actions by plotting the current condition (what the ACM looks like today) against the potential for disturbance (the likelihood of further damage and deterioration.)

Visual Inspection

E 1368 was first published in 1990 and has been revised nine times, the latest edition being E 1368-05. The scope is not limited to inspection: it actually describes a process for managing an abatement project from project design through certifying and documenting completion of the work. The standard emphasizes the cooperation required from the building owner, consultant, project monitor and abatement contractor to complete the job on time and within budget. The purpose of the stringent inspections is to improve the chances for passing the final air sampling for clearance before the area in which abatement occurs can be released for re-occupancy or renovation.

E 1368 requires three inspections by the owner’s representative — the project monitor — as the work proceeds. The inspection of the preparations identifies problems that might result in failing the later inspections or final air sampling. The inspection for completeness of removal at the conclusion of the project verifies that ACM was removed as required by the plans and specifications, and the criterion to pass is “no unremoved material or visible residue” (Figure 4). After passing this inspection, plastic sheeting is removed from walls, floors and other protected surfaces inside the enclosure, which remains under negative pressure with the decontamination facilities in operation, and the area is then thoroughly cleaned. Then the completeness of cleanup inspection is performed, with the criterion being “no visible debris.” If the area does not pass, or if the final air samples fail, it is re-cleaned and re-inspected. The standard stresses that excessive residue and debris are cause for terminating the inspections to avoid placing the project monitor in the position of supervising the final removal and cleanup, which are the contractor’s responsibilities.

E 1368 contains detailed procedures for conducting the visual inspections for abatement by removal, encapsulation and enclosure, as well as for crawl spaces, dry removal and glove bag operations. There is also a list of documentation requirements and a section on visual inspection for operations and maintenance (O&M) work. Concerning the latter, it is important to note that many O&M tasks are not done in a negative pressure enclosure, nor are they cleared with air sampling, leaving a thorough visual inspection as the only criterion for releasing the area for re-occupancy.

Asbestos Cement O&M Work

E 2394 is the most recent of these standards, having been published in October 2004. It covers O&M work on a specific type of ACM: asbestos-cement products. While the emphasis in the United States is on friable ACM and non-friable floor tile, asbestos-cement materials are far more prevalent in other countries. According to a publication of an asbestos producer’s trade association, 85 to 90 percent of the chrysotile (the most common form of asbestos) fiber is used in cement products.

E 2394 provides the rationale and procedures for doing work on asbestos-cement products that are already installed in buildings when removal is not an option – it does not encourage the installation of new asbestos-cement materials. The types of asbestos-cement commonly found are described, such as roofing, siding and pipes (Figure 5). The operations that can release airborne fibers and create debris, including cutting, drilling, sanding, etc., are covered. Controlling the release of airborne fibers emphasizes wetting the material; “thickened substances” such as shaving cream can effectively capture debris. The use of mechanical equipment such as dust capture shrouds and vacuum cleaners is discouraged because these devices become contaminated as soon as they are used, requiring special training and facilities to clean and maintain them. Such resources may not be available in some developing countries where E 2394 is expected to be used.

Appendices to E 2394 provide step-by-step procedures for work on four types of asbestos-cement materials:

• Removing damaged asbestos cement pipe;
• Working on damaged asbestos-cement electrical ducts encased in concrete slabs;
• Drilling holes in asbestos-cement panels; and
• Removal of asbestos-cement panels.

The intent is for supervisors to use these procedures to train their workers and also as a checklist at the job site. More procedures will be added as appendices to the standard.

The development of E 2394 was an international effort that benefited from input and comment from more than 20 countries. The published standard was introduced to representatives of 40 countries at the Global Asbestos Congress in November, 2004 (see “Asbestos Control Standards Showcased in Tokyo,” SN, February 2005). At the conference, the foundation was laid for ASTM to provide training courses on the use of all three E06 asbestos control standards in countries where they will be used.

The Global Asbestos Congress served as a poignant reminder that people still get sick and die from breathing asbestos fibers. The standards developed by E06 are intended to reduce this exposure and its consequences as long as asbestos-containing materials remain in buildings and facilities. //

Want to know more about these standards?

The Manual on Asbestos Control: Surveys, Removal and Management – Second Edition is now available from ASTM Customer Service at 610/832-9585 or This 105-page book by Andrew F. Oberta has numerous examples from his own experience and contains more than 200 illustrations. All of the subject matter of E 1368, E 2356 and E 2394 is covered in detail, as well as other topics related to asbestos control. A CD with five standards is included in the purchase price.

The Standards for Asbestos Control courses are offered through the ASTM Technical and Professional Training program. The one-day course, with Oberta as the instructor, covers basic asbestos awareness, five asbestos standards and negative exposure assessments. Attendees receive copies of the Manual on Asbestos Control and the standards covered. The course will be offered next in Anaheim, Calif., on May 19 and at ASTM Headquarters in West Conshohocken, Pa., on Sept. 22. Further information and a registration form is posted at or call 612/832-9686 . Inquiries for on-site courses and from users of ASTM standards in other countries are particularly encouraged.

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