Information presented in this publication is intended to provide a general understanding of the statutory and regulatory requirements governing managing asbestos. This information is not intended to replace, limit or expand upon the complete statutory and regulatory requirements found in the Illinois Environmental Protection Act and Title 35 of the Illinois Administrative Code.
This fact sheet does not apply to privately owned homes and apartments with four or less units.
Asbestos is a naturally occurring mineral found in certain rocks. This mineral separates into strong, thin fibers that are invisible to the naked eye. Asbestos was commonly used in building materials before the mid-1970s and occasionally until the late 1980s because it is strong, fire- and corrosion-resistant, and a good insulator. Common uses of asbestos include the following:
If the materials discussed above contain more than one percent asbestos as determined using polarized light microscopy (PLM), 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 nonfriable ACM. When dry, nonfriable ACM cannot be crumbled or reduced to a powder by hand pressure.
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; mesotheliona, 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. The number of fibers a person must inhale to develop asbestos-related disease 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 to air, asbestos is considered a hazardous air pollutant regulated under the National Emission Standards for Hazardous Air Pollutants (NESHAP) regulations.
NESHAP regulations are Federal regulations under the Clean Air Act (CAA) that apply to the facility owners and contractors who perform work in public and commercial buildings. Asbestos NESHAP regulations address common small business activities such as milling, manufacturing and fabricating operations, demolition and renovation activities, waste disposal issues, active and inactive waste disposal sites, and asbestos conversion processes. A privately owned home or an apartment with four or less units is exempt from the regulations unless the building has either had previous use or future planned use as a commercial or public facility. For privately owned homes and apartments with four or less units, please refer to the fact sheet titled "How Do I Manage Asbestos In My House Or Apartment Building?"
The term "facility" as used in NESHAP regulations refers to a residential structure or any building that has been or will be used as a commercial property. The only exemptions are privately owned homes or residential structures having four or less dwelling units.
Category II nonfriable ACM consists of any material except for Category I nonfriable ACM that contains more than one percent asbestos as determined using PLM and that when dry, cannot be crumbled, pulverized, or reduced to powder by hand pressure.
If an inspector has determined that regulated ACM removal is necessary, a notice of the removal must be delivered or postmarked to the Illinois Environmental Protection Agency (Illinois EPA) at least 10 working days prior to the commencement of demolition or renovation if the amount of regulated ACM to be removed exceeds 160 square feet, 260 linear feet, or 1 cubic meter. This notification of demolition and renovation form can be obtained by calling the Illinois EPA Office of Small Business.
Although you will hire a licensed contractor to conduct regulated ACM removal work, you should be aware of the requirements below for contractors during removal activities.
Only a licensed contractor should remove regulated ACM. Licensed asbestos contractors can be found in the telephone book yellow pages or by calling the Illinois Department of Public Health at (217) 782-3517.
In addition to NESHAP requirements, other regulatory standards apply to asbestos. The first two items listed below apply to regulated ACM removal contractors, and the remaining items apply to the facility owner.
For more information on ACM, please call the Illinois EPA Office of Small Business Helpline toll-free at (888) EPA-1996 or the DCCA Small Business Environmental Assistance Helpline at (800) 252-3998. All calls are considered confidential and the caller can remain anonymous.