Asbestos is the name given to a family of naturally occurring fibrous minerals that have been used in the past in building and pipe insulation, floor tiles, plaster, siding, and automotive brake and clutch linings. Asbestos is flame retardant and is a good insulator.
Medical evidence indicates that breathing or ingesting even small amounts of asbestos fibers may contribute to the development of functionally disabling and life shortening diseases. The primary threat to human health from asbestos comes from the inhalation of fibers.
Asbestos is most hazardous when it is “friable,” that is, easily crumbled so that asbestos fibers can become airborne. Generally, non-friable asbestos materials (such as floor tiles) do not pose a hazard unless they are cut, ground, or sanded. Trained inspectors can identify materials that are likely to contain asbestos, but laboratory testing is needed to confirm whether a particular material contains asbestos or not.
The MAA maintains an Asbestos Management Plan (AMP) which identifies the location of asbestos containing material in any MDOT MAA owned building at BWI Marshall and Martin State Airport. Additionally the MDOT MAA makes re-inspections of these areas approximately every 6 months to detect any changes, and ensure that the material is not being disturbed or damaged. The environmental office is part of the Permit Process for tenant renovation and construction activities. When work is identified that may impact asbestos containing material, the Environmental Compliance office may perform an asbestos abatement project to remove these materials prior to your renovations. Contact the Environmental Compliance office early in your renovation planning process to determine if asbestos abatement must occur, and include time in your construction schedule for the abatement process.
If asbestos-containing materials must be removed or disturbed, the work must be done by specially trained and licensed contractors who use barriers (plastic sheeting) and special filtered vacuum cleaners to prevent the spread of asbestos fibers and to clean the area after the work is done. Medical monitoring must be conducted on staff that have conducted this work to check for possible health effects.
Managers and supervisors can help protect their employees from asbestos hazards by:
- Knowing what asbestos materials, if any, are known to be present in areas of your responsibility.
- Making sure employees are aware of any asbestos materials in their workspace and know not to disturb these materials in ways that would release dust or particles.
- Making sure that building materials that need to be disturbed or removed for renovation or maintenance projects are first inspected and tested for asbestos.
- Informing employees about any asbestos removal projects in their work areas and making sure that warning signs are properly posted and observed.
As required by the Clean Air Act, U.S. EPA developed the National Emission Standards for Hazardous Air Pollutants, under which asbestos is regulated. The regulations cover four asbestos activities:
- Removal, repair, or encapsulation of asbestos-containing materials (ACM),
- Approval of asbestos training providers
- Regulation of persons accredited to perform asbestos-related activities
- Asbestos in schools
In addition to the federal regulations, the State of Maryland regulates how persons work with asbestos as well as how to train persons to work with asbestos. Both the Maryland Department of Occupational Safety and Health (MOSH) and the Maryland Department of the Environment (MDE) regulate asbestos because of its widespread historical use.
In Maryland, an “asbestos project” is defined as any activity involving the demolition, renovation, or encapsulation of friable asbestos material or those non-friable ACMs that could be rendered friable when disturbed. An asbestos project involving less than 10 square feet or 20 linear feet of friable asbestos is considered operations and maintenance (O&M) work and is not regulated by the state.
One of the requirements of tenant leases is that tenants must adhere to the requirements of the applicable tenant directives and associated regulations. Not adhering to these requirements can impact the standing of the tenant lease.
When asbestos projects are not conducted according to applicable regulations tenants can face civil penalties of $5,000 per day and criminal penalties up to $25,000 and 2 years in prison (Maryland Environmental Code 6-422).
Additional information can be found through the following websites: