What is asbestos?
Asbestos is a naturally-occurring mineral. Chrysotile (white asbestos) is the type most commonly used in structural applications. Asbestos is heat resistant, very strong, and has remarkable insulating properties, making it a desirable material in construction.
What are the health effects of asbestos exposure?
There are three exposure routes for asbestos fibers:
- Inhalation via the respiratory system
- Ingestion via the mouth associated with asbestos fibers in drinking water
- Skin contact
Asbestos has been known to cause a number of disabling and fatal diseases such as asbestosis, lung cancer, mesothelioma and pleural plaques. There is no safe level of exposure to asbestos; therefore, all exposure to asbestos should be avoided.
The building department requires a District job number J#) prior to structural demolition. What is a job number?
Because asbestos has been used in many structural applications, District Regulation 11-2-401.3 requires that for every demolition or for every renovation involving the removal of 100 sq ft/lin ft or greater of Regulated Asbestos Containing Material (RACM), a notification must be made to the BAAQMD at least 10 working days prior to commencement of demolition/renovation. For residential buildings of four or fewer dwelling units, 72 hour prior notification is acceptable with the payment of an additional fee (see schedule below).
The District provides a form to use for notification of the two types of jobs. To obtain a Demolition or Renovation form, download it or call BAAQMD staff at (415) 749-4762. Information obtained from the form is stored and a job number (J#) is assigned to each demolition or renovation job that is notified. The J# is proof that the notification requirements of District Regulation 11-2 have been met. This information then allows BAAQMD staff to conduct an inspection to determine compliance with all other requirements of Regulation 11-2.
What is the difference between demolition/renovation?
BAAQMD Regulation 11, Rule 2 defines demolition as the wrecking, dismantling or intentional burning of a structure. Renovation is the removal of Regulated Asbestos Containing Material (RACM).
Is there a fee associated with a job number (J#)?
Yes. District Regulation 3, Schedule L imposes a fee as authorized by the California Health & Safety Code.
How can I pay the associated fees to receive a J#?
The District accepts payment fo demolition and renovation fees by check, cashier's check, money order, and credit or debit cards. Effective May 1, 2013, customers may pay by American Express, Discover, Master Card, Visa, debit or pre-paid debit cards through the Air District's online payment portal through GovPayNet at: www.baaqmd.gov/payments. Credit card forms will no longer be accepted for asbestos fee payments. You can also submit payments by check, cashier's check or money order by mailing them with the asbestos notification form to BAAQMD, 939 Ellis Street, San Francisco, CA 94109.
How do I know if there is asbestos in the structure I want to demolish or renovate?
Regulation 11-2-303.8 requires that a survey be performed prior to demolition to determine the presence of RACM. The person who performs the survey must be Cal-OSHA certified and must have taken and passed an EPA approved building course. In the case of residential buildings having four or fewer dwelling units, the owner/operator can sample and test suspected asbestos containing materials rather than hiring a certified consultant.
Where can I obtain a list of asbestos consultants/technicians who are certified to perform these surveys?
This list can be obtained by calling the California Division of Occupational Safety and Health at 916-574-2993 or going to their web site: www.dir.ca.gov/DOSH.
If there is no asbestos in the structure, do I still need to notify the BAAQMD of the demolition of the structure?
Yes. BAAQMD Regulation 11-2-401.3 requires that notification of demolition must be made to the BAAQMD even if there is no asbestos present.
Where can I obtain an asbestos Renovation or Demolition notification form?
To obtain a Demolition or Renovation notification form, download it or call BAAQMD staff at (415) 749-4762.
Where is asbestos typically found in a structure and how can I be certain asbestos is present?
Asbestos can be found in various locations throughout a structure. Some examples include, but are not limited to acoustic ceilings, taping mud on sheet rock, plaster, flooring, heating ducts, stucco, flue pipes, pipe lagging, and roofing. To determine the presence of asbestos, a sample must be taken to a laboratory and tested using polarized light microscopy (PLM) as the testing methodology.
Can a homeowner remove asbestos?
Yes. However, if the asbestos is determined to be RACM, the homeowner must comply with the removal, disposal and administrative requirements contained in BAAQMD Regulation 11, Rule 2. It is very difficult for a homeowner to set up a containment area or to comply with the HEPA exhaust requirements.
What is Regulated Asbestos Containing Material (RACM)?
Regulated Asbestos Containing Material (RACM) is defined in BAAQMD Regulation 11, Rule 2 as asbestos which is friable and contains greater than 1% asbestos. Friable asbestos is asbestos which can be crushed, crumbled or pulverized using simple hand pressure when dry. Non-friable asbestos containing materials containing greater than 1% asbestos are also considered to be RACM if they are subjected to sanding, drilling, grinding, cutting, abrading or may be crumbled, pulverized, or reduced to powder during the course of demolition or renovation.
Does asbestos have to be removed?
No. If it is in good condition and is not being disturbed, it is best to leave it undisturbed. In order for asbestos to be a health hazard, it must be released from the product into the air people breathe.
Does my contractor have to be licensed to remove asbestos?
The California State Contractors Board requires that a contractor have a valid, current contractors license and certificate for asbestos abatement work. To view the Cal/OSHA webpage that discusses choosing a contractor, and the Cal/OSHA and U.S. EPA compliance history database at: www.osha.gov/oshstats/.