GSA's Public Buildings Service (PBS) minimizes asbestos exposure to all building occupants by implementing Asbestos Management Plans in its buildings.
Asbestos is a mineral found in certain kinds of rock formations. It makes an excellent insulation material and is heat, fire, and corrosion resistant. Asbestos exposure may cause asbestosis, lung cancer, and mesothelioma. Asbestos fibers are durable and can lodge and remain in the body for many years. Diseases caused by asbestos may not show symptoms for 20 years after exposure. A safe exposure threshold for asbestos has not been established, but the risk of disease generally increases with the length and amount of exposure.
Potential sources of asbestos exposure include pipe insulation, boiler insulation, welding curtains, corrugated paper products used for insulating against heat or cold, caulking putties, adhesives, joint compounds, floor tiles, linoleum, acoustical plaster and ceiling tiles.
Undisturbed asbestos generally does not pose a health risk. Human exposure only occurs when asbestos is disturbed causing fibers to be released into the air and then inhaled.
GSA's Asbestos Management Plans are building specific and address the types of asbestos containing materials (ACM), the quantity and the location. GSA minimizes asbestos exposure to building occupants by:
- Managing ACM in place as long as it is in good visual condition;
- Abating ACM that is damaged or subject to disturbance;
- Complying with OSHA and EPA regulations, standards and guidance on the management, handling, transportation and disposal of ACM. (All GSA, PBS acquisitions are subject to these regulations, standards and guidance);
- Using products that do not contain ACM in GSA construction, renovation or repair projects;
- Requiring qualified persons do the initial and follow up visual inspections in determining the location and condition of ACM; and
- Promoting openness in communication with customers, regulatory agencies, the public and other interested parties during asbestos related repair, renovation and abatement projects.