Information that Realty Agents Should Know About Asbestos Regulations

Maine DEP Information Sheet

July 2004 - Contact: phone (207)-287-2651

 

This Information Sheet provides a brief overview of the basic regulatory requirements pertaining to asbestos as well as information that you can provide to your clients so that they too can understand how and when asbestos regulations apply to their properties. Should you require detailed information or have a specific question, please call (207) 287-2651.

What is Asbestos?

Asbestos is a naturally occurring mineral, very strong and heat resistant, which has been made into nearly three thousand products. It is found on heating and domestic water systems (pipes, boilers, gaskets, tanks, elbows and tees), spray-on insulation (fireproofing and acoustical purposes), flooring components (vinyl tiles and linoleum) and drop-in ceiling systems (ceiling tiles). Asbestos-containing materials (ACM) are also found in exterior building materials, such as siding (shingles or sheets) and roofing products. Asbestos is a known human carcinogen; if inhaled, it can cause lung cancer, mesothelioma (a fatal cancer of the tissue lining the chest cavity), and asbestosis (lesions in the lungs).

Are there disclosure requirements that to apply to asbestos in real estate transactions?

Yes. The seller of residential real property shall provide to the purchaser a property disclosure statement containing information on the presence or prior removal of asbestos. If this information is unknown or unavailable to the seller, the seller may comply with the disclosure requirements by advising the purchaser of the fact that the information is unknown.

If my client has asbestos-containing materials inside or on the outside of a residential or commercial building, are they required to remove it?

No. There are no state or federal laws that require the removal of ACM from commercial or residential building. Some cities, however, do have local ordinances that require landlords to maintain asbestos in rental properties in good condition.

What if my client wants the asbestos removed from the property?

Any renovation or demolition activity that impacts ACM in quantities greater than 3 square or 3 linear feet is subject to the requirements of 38 M.R.S.A. Title 38 Sections 1271 to 1284 (Maine statute) and Chapter 425, Asbestos Management Regulations (DEP regulation). Demolition means the tearing down or intentional burning of a building or part of a building. Renovation means the removal or repair of asbestos-containing facility component and/or building material together with any handling operations. The asbestos statute and regulations apply to any institutional, commercial, public, industrial or residential buildings. There are specific and unique regulatory requirements that apply to demolishing buildings. Please contact the local municipality or the Department of Environmental Protection for further information on this subject.

What do Maine regulations require when asbestos is repaired or removed?

Maine regulations require the following for any activity that impacts greater than 3 square feet or 3 linear feet of ACM:

  •  the activity must be notified as an asbestos abatement project to the DEP;
  •  the company performing the activity must be licensed with the Department;
  • the individuals working for the licensed company must be certified with the Department;
  •  the work must be performed under controlled conditions to prevent the release of asbestos fibers (specific work practices consisting of reduced pressure enclosures and wet methods);
  •  the project must be conducted in accordance with a project-specific design;
  •  the clearance standard (visual evaluation and air clearance testing) must be met; and
  •  the asbestos waste must be properly stored in fiber-tight containers and transported and disposed of in a landfill licensed to accept the type of waste generated (friable or non-friable).

Are there any asbestos-containing materials that a homeowner can remove themselves?

Yes, but only the specific asbestos containing materials listed below and only in the circumstance described. Please advise your clients to contact the Department for further information on how to properly conduct these activities. Improper removal may result in an asbestos fiber release, endangering both public health and the environment, and your client may incur expensive clean-up costs if the work is done improperly.

Asbestos containing siding:

Owners of owner-occupied single family residences may remove exterior asbestos-containing siding themselves. Please note that this applies only to owner-occupied single-family residences, not multi-family dwelling units or to single-family rental residences or single-family residences owned by a business. If a single-family homeowner wishes to hire someone else to remove the asbestos-containing siding, then the owner must hire a licensed asbestos abatement contractor.

Asbestos-containing roofing materials, mastics, glues, cements, sealants, coatings, and adhesives.
Provided that these product are not sanded, grinded, abraded or cut with a mechanical roof cutter,
then homeowners as well as non-licensed contractors can remove asbestos-containing roofing products.

Intact asbestos-containing floor tile.
Provided that the floor tile is removed in a non-aggressive method, using infrared tile lift machine or heat guns, where each floor tile is removed in a sufficiently heated state whereby the intact floor tile comes up whole, then homeowners as well as non-licensed contractors can remove asbestos containing floor tiles. Please be sure to advise your client that sanding, grinding or abrading these materials, or removing floor tiles with ice scrapers makes them subject to the state asbestos regulations.

Be sure to advise your client that the asbestos waste generated by these activities must be disposed in a landfill licensed to accept non-friable asbestos.

In all cases, asbestos containing pipe and boiler insulation commonly found in homes and commercial properties, must be removed by licensed asbestos abatement contractors.

Simply, what can I do to help my client be in compliance with both State and federal asbestos laws?

  •  Ensure that the disclosure requirements are met;
  •  Ensure that your client hires only licensed asbestos abatement contractors to remove asbestos containing materials in accordance with Chapter 425, Asbestos Management Regulations.
  •  Advise your client to contact the Department of Environmental Protection before attempting to remove asbestos containing siding, roofing or floor tiles; and
  •  Call DEP’s Lead & Asbestos Hazard Prevention Program at (207) 287-2651 if you have any questions on state or federal asbestos regulations.

An up-to-date list of DEP-licensed asbestos contractors is available from the Department by calling (207) 287-2651 or on the internet at www.maine.gov/dep/waste/asbestos/ (contractor listing)