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Asbestos FAQ's

Text with worker wrapping pipe.
 

Who Are We?

What Are Our Responsibilities?

Why Regulate Asbestos?

What Regulations Are Enforced?

Who Are the Other Asbestos Enforcement Agencies?

Are All Products Containing Asbestos Considered A Health Risk?

Who is Exposed?

Where Can Asbestos Be Found in a Home?

How Do I Know If My Home Contains Asbestos?

What Do I Do If My Home Does Contain Asbestos?

 

 

Who Are We?

 

The Construction Safety and Health Division's Asbestos Program was initiated in September 1986.  It is a section within the Michigan Department of Licensing and Regulatory Affairs, Michigan Occupational Safety and Health Administration.  The primary function of the program is to assure that people working with asbestos are properly trained and that individuals performing asbestos work comply with rules governing the work activity.  These rules are designed to protect not only the individual employee performing asbestos work, but also the general public that occupy the area or building in which the work occurs.
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What Are Our Responsibilities?

 

The Asbestos Program is responsible for the enforcement of most Michigan asbestos regulations.  The Asbestos Program has the following six (6) major areas of responsibility:

Approval of Asbestos Training Courses

In order for individuals performing asbestos-related work to become accredited, they must successfully complete a designated training course that is recognized or approved by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) or the Asbestos Program. For the 40-hour contractor/supervisor, 32-hour asbestos abatement worker, 24-hour project designer, 24-hour inspector and 16-hour management planner courses, Michigan course sponsorsmust submit an application and other specified materials to the Asbestos Program and receive approval before the course may be taught in Michigan. Specifically, course sponsors must submit all course materials, instructors' credentials, and a completed application form with the appropriate fee. When a course sponsor has satisfied Michigan's minimum requirements, it receives "Contingent Course Approval" and is able to provide the course within the state of Michigan. Each sponsor must then pass an on-site review of their course before receiving "Full Course Approval."


Accreditation of Workers

Asbestos abatement workers, supervisors, project designers, inspectors, and management planners must successfully complete the appropriate initial or refresher training requirements and become accredited before working in Michigan.    Asbestos inspectors, management planners, and project designers must also satisfy asbestos-related work experience requirements to become accredited to work in the state.

Licensing of Asbestos Abatement Contractors
Other than specified exempt licensed trade groups (i.e., electricians, mechanical contractors, plumbers, residential builders, or residential maintenance/alteration contractors), any individual or company within Michigan that is hired to remove or encapsulate friable asbestos on the premises of another, must be licensed by the Asbestos Program before engaging in any asbestos abatement activities.  To become licensed, contractors must have workers' compensation insurance and proof that all workers and supervisors have been accredited before receiving their annual licenses.  If trained and accredited, the designated exempt licensed trade groups are allowed to remove or encapsulate friable asbestos materials without obtaining an asbestos abatement contractor's license provided the job they are performing is incidental to their primary license trade and it does not exceed 260 linear feet or 160 square feet of friable asbestos-containing material.

Processing of Asbestos Abatement Project Notifications
Contractors performing friable asbestos removal or encapsulation work in Michigan must provide project notifications indicating the starting/ending dates and other job-related information to the Asbestos Program within a specified time frame. The asbestos Program requires project notification 10 days prior to any non-emergency asbestos abatement project exceeding 10 linear feet or 15 square feet, or both, of friable asbestos-containing materials. A one-percent (1%) project notification fee must also be included. Emergency asbestos abatement projects require notification by phone, fax, or mail prior to starting the projects. Please call for approval and instructions on what can be considered emergency situations.

In Michigan, project notifications may also be required by the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ).  Please contact DEQ at 517.241-7463 for the NESHAP notification requirements.

Compliance Investigations
The Asbestos Program conducts on-site evaluations of the abatement activities of contractors and also responds to complaints or referrals involving improper work practices or procedures during asbestos abatement or disturbance activities.

AHERA Management Plan Review
The Asbestos Hazardous Emergency Response Act (AHERA) of 1986 is an act mandated by Congress and administered by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to regulate asbestos in schools.  This act mandates inspections and written management plans for friable and non-friable asbestos-containing building materials (ACBM) for kindergarten through 12th grade private and public nonprofit schools.  The Asbestos Program is the state agency which was selected by the governor to review the school's management plans and determine their compliance with AHERA.  This process has involved the review of more than 5,000 individual plans with a written assessment given to each Local Education Association (LEA).

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Why Regulate Asbestos?

 

Asbestos is a mineral that has been used in more than 3,000 different products over the last 100 years for its insulating, acoustical and fire protective properties.  Common products that contain asbestos are pipe insulation, floor and ceiling tile, spray-on insulation, boiler wrap insulation and electrical appliances such as your toaster and hair dryer.  Asbestos-containing materials are frequently encountered in a wide range of environments, including but not limited to, industrial and commercial facilities, schools and universities, and residential properties.


Asbestos is actually the name of a group of minerals that share similar chemical and physical properties.  The most common of these minerals are Chrysotile, Amosite, and Crocidolite. The primary characteristic that makes asbestos a reason for concern is its ability to separate into microscopic needle-like fibers.  Once these fibers become airborne (usually by disturbing the product in which they are contained), they are easily inhaled into the lungs.  Once in the lungs, these needle-like fibers can penetrate the lung tissue and the lining that holds the lung in place (pleura).  This begins the process which can eventually lead to one of the three commonly associated diseases of asbestos:

Asbestosis A scarring and hardening of the lung tissue
Lung cancer Malignant tumor growth of the lung tissue
Mesothelioma A scarring and malignant tumor of the lung lining

All of these diseases can lead to death.  Exposure to asbestos is also associated with increased incidences of gastrointestinal cancer.  Further, epidemiological studies indicate that the risk of lung cancer among exposed workers who smoke cigarettes is greatly increased over the risk of lung cancer among non-exposed smokers or exposed nonsmokers.  Therefore, smoking among asbestos workers is strongly discouraged.


The key to preventing occupational illnesses/diseases involving asbestos is to initially recognize products that may contain asbestos and assure that employees are properly trained, protected and equipped to work with these products in a safe manner. 
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What Regulations Are Enforced?

- Michigan Public Act 154 of 1974  "Michigan Occupational Safety and Health Act" 
- Michigan Public Act 135 of 1986  "Asbestos Abatement Contractors Licensing Act" 
- Michigan Public Act 440 of 1988  "Asbestos Workers Accreditation Act" 
- OSHA 29 CFR 1926.1101  "Asbestos Standard for Construction" 
- OSHA 29 CFR 1910.1001  "Asbestos Standard for General Industry"

In addition, the Asbestos Program evaluates compliance with 40 CFR 763, the "Asbestos Hazard Emergency Response Act (AHERA)" and 40 CFR Subpart M, the "National Emission Standard for Hazardous Air Pollutants (NESHAP)."  When violations of these standards are identified, they are referred to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) or Michigan's Department of Environmental Quality's Air Quality Division (DEQ) as appropriate. 
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Who Are The Other Asbestos Enforcement Agencies?

 

The Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) 
Areas of Responsibility: 
  NESHAP Regulation (40 CFR Subpart M)
   Renovation and Demolition Projects
   Transportation of Asbestos Waste
  Landfill Requirements
For Further Information Contact: 517.241.7463

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)

Areas of Responsibility:
   Enforcement of AHERA Regulations
For AHERA Assistance Contact:  312.886.7061
   Enforcement of NESHAP Regulations
For NESHAP Assistance Contact: 312.353.4370
DEQ Wayne County Only-NESHAP Asbestos Program

Areas of Responsibility:

         NESHAP Reno/Demo Projects in Wayne County, Michigan.

For Further Information Contact: 313.456.4686


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Are All Products Containing Asbestos Considered a Health Risk?

 

A material is only a health risk when asbestos fibers are released from the material and become airborne.  Asbestos materials that can be easily crumbled by hand pressure have the greatest risk of releasing asbestos. 
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Who is Exposed?

 

Nationwide, an estimated 1.3 million employees in construction and general industry potentially face significant asbestos exposure on the job.  Heaviest exposures occur in the construction industry, particularly during building renovation or demolition activities where asbestos is disturbed or removed.  Employees may also be exposed during the manufacture of asbestos products (such as textiles, friction products, insulation, and other building materials) and during automotive brake and clutch repair work.

 

If your work involves asbestos-containing materials, it is important to recognize an employer's responsibilities under the Michigan Occupational Safety and Health Act (MIOSHA) concerning exposure monitoring, regulated areas, engineering controls and work practices, respiratory protection, protective clothing, hygiene facilities for employees, communication of the hazards associated with asbestos in construction activities, housekeeping, medical exams, and record keeping. 
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Where Can Asbestos Be Found in a Home?

 

Asbestos can be found are in appliances, ceilings, wall and pipe coverings, floor tiles and coverings, and roofing materials.  Asbestos was used primarily for insulation or fire protection. 
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How Do I Know If My Home Contains Asbestos?

 

The manufacturer of a product will know whether their product contains asbestos.  In addition, professionals in the asbestos abatement field will have a general idea of products that contain asbestos.  A local environmental laboratory will also be able to test a sample of a material to see if it contains asbestos.
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What Do I Do If My Home Does Contain Asbestos?

 

Unless the material is crumbling and in poor condition, it may be SAFER to leave it alone.  If you decide to have the material removed, the technical staff of the Asbestos Program can inform you of the proper procedures, the names of licensed asbestos abatement contractors who can be hired to do the removal for you, and what to watch for if you do hire a contractor.

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*The answers provided are not meant to be a substitute for legal advice.

 

 

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