How to Avoid Asbestos Exposure

In order to avoid being exposed to asbestos, you must be aware of the locations it is likely to be found. If you do not know whether something is asbestos or not, assume that it is until it is verified otherwise. Remember that you cannot tell if floor or ceiling tiles contain asbestos just by looking at them.  All Maine schools have been inspected for asbestos-containing building materials and an asbestos management plan has been prepared and is available for review.  Each school system has a designated asbestos contact who is responsible to ensure that training, removal, annual notifications, and periodic inspections are done.

The Maine Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) licenses asbestos consultants that , as well as can take samples from materials in order to determine whether or not they contain asbestos, and asbestos abatement contractors who can properly remove asbestos. If you need to have materials analyzed or tested for asbestos, please contact the Maine DEP at 207-287-2651. Never take a sample yourself or remove asbestos products unless you are licensed to do so OR you can remove asbestos-containing floor tile in a whole and intact fashion by heat gun or other method.

If you have reason to suspect that something is asbestos, either because it is labeled as such, or because it something that is likely to contain asbestos (9" floor tile, for example) DO NOT DISTURB IT.


...Any asbestos-containing materials or suspected materials.

The State of Maine has surveyed all school buildings for the presence of asbestos and prepared a book. If you need to do work that might involve asbestos, check with asbestos management plan in your school system to find out what can be done safely.

For example, before removing and replacing even one ceiling tile, it will be necessary to ensure they do not contain asbestos. If they do contain asbestos, they will need to be removed by licensed asbestos abatement workers before the work may be performed.  Check the plan!  However, if the ceiling tiles will only be removed temporarily and replaced, this is not a regulated activity, but may well result in exposure.


Housekeepers and custodians should not sand or "dry" buff asbestos-containing floor tiles;  only wet stripping methods should be used during stripping operations. Low abrasion pads should be used at speeds below 300 rpm.

Spills and Deterioration

It is important to report any damaged asbestos-containing materials to your designated person. If, for example, you discover some sprayed-on asbestos insulation has been knocked off of a ceiling or wall, this would be considered a "spill." As such it would need to be cleaned up immediately by asbestos abatement workers. Do not attempt to clean up spills yourself!  Disturb the material as little as possible. Also report any damaged pipe insulation, ceiling tile, 9" floor tile, fallen clumps of sprayed-on insulation, etc. Take measures to prevent others from disturbing the spill until the Asbestos Abatement crew arrives. Broken and fallen ceiling tiles should be left in place until identified. Only after they have been identified as safe may they be removed. Asbestos tiles will be removed by asbestos abatement workers.  Broken and damaged asbestos floor tiles must also be removed by asbestos abatement workers. Report any suspect broken tiles to the school system's asbestos designated person before impacting it.

By knowing where asbestos is likely to be located and then taking measures not to disturb it, you will protect yourself and others from exposure to this hazardous substance.

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