The DNREC Division of Air Quality’s Asbestos Management Program works with the DNREC Division of Waste and Hazardous Substances and the Office of Management and Budget’s Division of Facilities Management to protect the public from the health impacts of asbestos, which may lead to asbestosis, lung cancer, or mesothelioma.
The abatement program regulates the removal, transport, and disposal of asbestos in the state.
Asbestos-containing materials were widely used in industrial and commercial facilities as well as in homes until through the 1980s. Asbestos, a naturally-occurring durable mineral mined from the earth, was used to insulate pipes and ducts and to make roofing, flooring and siding materials.
Asbestos Management, Demolition and Renovation
DNREC Asbestos Management Program
State Street Commons
100 W. Water Street, Suite 6A
Dover, DE 19904
Asbestos Disposal Locations and Waste Haulers
DNREC Solid and Hazardous Waste Section
89 Kings Highway
Dover, DE 19901
Many homeowners have asbestos-containing materials in their homes. To properly identify these materials, homeowners should have an inspection performed by a Delaware-licensed asbestos inspector. Any asbestos-containing material that is in good condition and will not be disturbed should be left alone. However, if the material is deteriorating, or will be disturbed during renovation or demolition, it must be removed.
Homeowners in single-family, owner-occupied homes may do the work themselves provided they package and dispose of the waste properly. However, homeowners should use extreme caution when dealing with asbestos-containing materials, and should consider using a licensed asbestos abatement contractor for most removal projects. For more information on self-removal, read How to Properly Remove Cement Asbestos Board Siding.
A homeowner may contact the Delaware Solid Waste Authority (DSWA) and make arrangements to bring their asbestos-containing material to one of DSWA’s transfer stations or landfills. DSWA requires homeowners to call 24 hours in advance and make an appointment before bringing any asbestos- containing waste to its facilities. Other requirements may include completing a DSWA Asbestos Disposal Form. Call DSWA Citizen’s Response Line at 1-800-404-7080 for more information.
DNREC’s Div. of Waste and Hazardous Substances maintains a list of waste haulers that are permitted to transport asbestos. For a copy of this list, call 302-739-9403.
Before removing asbestos-containing materials during renovation or demolition of a structure containing asbestos, owners are advised (and may be required) to have an inspection by a Delaware licensed asbestos inspector.
Additionally, owners or operators must notify DNREC, as required, at least ten working days prior to any activity which may disturb asbestos-containing materials.
Finally, asbestos-containing materials may only be transported by approved hazardous waste haulers, and disposed of in approved disposal facilities.
Facility owners and fire companies conducting demolitions for fire training must meet notification and approval requirements outlined in the Delaware Open Burning Program.
Asbestos is the common name for a group of naturally occurring mineral fibers known for their high tensile strength and thermal insulating properties. Asbestos has been used in various products since the 1900s, but its peak usage years were from 1950 to 1975. It was considered an ideal material to use, since it resembles fibers such as cotton and wool in its pliability and softness, yet it is nonflammable and acid resistant.
Several other types of asbestos exist but were not commonly used to manufacture products. However, tremolite contamination has been documented by the US Environmental Protection Agency in vermiculite attic insulation, and caution should be used when dealing with this material.
Asbestos is mined as an ore from open pit mines. The ore is then processed to extract the fibers. Leading producers of asbestos in the world are Russia, Canada, China, Brazil, Kazakhstan and Zimbabwe.
Asbestos is commonly found in a variety of building construction materials and products. A detailed list of possible materials and products containing asbestos is available from the EPA’s asbestos web site.
When asbestos is disturbed, it can break down into microscopic fibers that may become airborne. Once airborne, these fibers can be inhaled and trapped in the lungs, posing a health threat. Breathing asbestos can cause respiratory diseases including asbestosis, lung cancer, and mesothelioma, a fatal cancer of the chest cavity lining. The American Lung Association provides additional health information on the hazards of asbestos.
The greatest potential for exposure to asbestos fibers now occurs when asbestos-containing building materials are disturbed during either building renovations or demolitions. All building owners – residential and commercial – should know what steps to take to properly identify and address asbestos hazards in structures prior to beginning any work that might disturb asbestos-containing materials.