What is Asbestos?

Asbestos is a group of naturally occurring, fibrous minerals known for their strength, flexibility, fire-resistance and insulating capabilities. These properties made asbestos a popular building material; it was widely used in the construction industry until the mid-1970s.

Around 1975, concern about health risks from asbestos exposure started to grow. Many construction companies began to phase out asbestos containing materials (ACMs); however, ACMs have been found in buildings constructed as late as 1990.

Some common ACMs are:

  • Plaster
  • Drywall joint compounds
  • Floor tiles
  • Floor levelling compounds
  • Ceiling tiles
  • Textured ceiling finishes
  • Mechanical insulation

When is Asbestos Harmful?

Asbestos is only harmful if its fibres become airborne. When inhaled, asbestos fibres can cause adverse health effects.

Asbestos fibres may become airborne if an ACM is disturbed or damaged. When ACMs are left intact, they are not considered a health risk.

Managing Asbestos on Campus

Many UAlberta buildings were constructed prior to 1990 and contain asbestos.

Facilities & Operations has an active Asbestos Management Program in place to safely manage and remove asbestos from the buildings on campus. The program:

  • Keeps an inventory of ACMs in UAlberta buildings
  • Outlines asbestos inspection protocol
  • Implements staff and contractor training
  • Outlines occupant notification procedures
  • Outlines work procedures