In 1984 an EPA national survey estimated there were 733,000 buildings with friable ACM in the United States...

Hazardous materials can be found in many components of a building.  These include asbestos-containing materials, PCB’s and lead-based paint.  Asbestos, used in materials ranging from insulation to wiring jackets to floor tile mastic and numerous other materials was first noted as a potentially hazardous material as far back as 1900.  Still, it was another 70 years before OSHA established federal guidelines for workplace asbestos exposure.  In 1984 an EPA national survey estimated there were 733,000 buildings with friable ACM in the United States, most being private non-residential buildings.  In 1989 the EPA promulgated an Asbestos Ban and Phase-Out Rule, banning most asbestos-containing products in the USA. 

Polychlorinated biphenyls, or PCB’s, were first manufactured commercially in the USA in 1927 as dielectric and coolant fluids.  By 1933 symptoms of PCB exposure was being detected in workers in the manufacturing plant and by 1937 they were linked to liver cancer.  It took until 1979 for manufacturing of PCB’s to be banned in the United States.  PCB’s were used in many caulks manufactured in the 1950’s through the 70’s because they imparted flexibility in the materials. 

Lead pigments were used in many paints from the 1920’s into the 1970’s.  In the 1970’s the federal government banned the use of lead-based house paint.

As building enclosure specialists, we still come across these materials while performing studies and renovation design.  Our staff includes three NYS DOL Asbestos Project Designers and two NYS DOL Asbestos Inspectors.  We routinely offer sample collection and abatement design for ACM’s, PCB’s and LBP as part of our services to clients.

- Joseph J. Cavino, AIA, DOL Asbestos Inspector