The Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) Asbestos Control program (ACP) does not regulate residential facilities; however, there may be instances in which a residential unit becomes a facility. Please see our FAQs tab for more information on residential units becoming regulated facilities.
Also, even though the DEQ does not regulate residential units, your local landfill may have other regulatory requirements which may require the characterization of waste to prevent asbestos exposure risks to its employees. Please contact them for further information. Occupational Safety and Health Administration ( OSHA) covers contractors working in homes. Please contact them at (800) 321-6742, or in billings at (406) 247-7494.
Our information sheet, Asbestos Basics, provides some basic information about the ACP, the origin of asbestos, and other helpful information. For places where asbestos can be found in a residence, see our Asbestos in Homes informational sheet and Asbestos Diagram listed below.
Asbestos is one of the most highly regulated substances in the U.S.
In Montana, asbestos-related activities are regulated by federal agencies, such as the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), and Occupational Safety and Health Administration, (OSHA), State of Montana Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ), and local agencies such as county health department and city building departments. However, not every aspect of asbestos management is regulated by every agency. And there may be aspects of asbestos management that may be regulated by more than one governmental agency.
DEQ oversees the permitting of asbestos abatement projects, the accreditation of asbestos-related occupations, and provides compliance assistance to the regulated community and interested parties. DEQ is also delegated by EPA to administer the National Emission Standards for Hazardous Air Pollutants ( NESHAP), 40 CFR Part 61 Subpart A, and the National Emission Standard for Asbestos, 40 CFR Part 61.
The tabs to the left of your screen are some of the frequently asked questions regarding homeowners and residential units.
To determine if the Residential Exemption applies, answer the following questions. Any "No" answer will mean that the residential exemption does not apply and State regulations under NESHAP apply.
If the answer was "Yes" to all the above criteria, the residential exemption applies. If not, then inspection, permitting, and compliance with Federal and State regulations apply.
The EPA considers projects "under the control of the same owner at the same site" as regulated. While the definition of "site" is extremely vague, they do clarify that they equate this as "comparable to a city block". There are approximately eight city blocks to a mile, so it comes to 660 feet. This may vary in a large complex or project.
People who work around or disturb asbestos are at risk for developing asbestos associated diseases. The occupational groups at the greatest risks for developing asbestos associated diseases include janitors, maintenance personnel, construction workers, insulators, plumbers, mechanics, telephone workers, electrical workers, fire fighters, and asbestos workers. People who work, live, or attend school in buildings containing asbestos products are also considered at risk for developing asbestos-associated diseases.
When asbestos or materials containing asbestos are damaged or disturbed, fibers are released into the air. Airborne asbestos fibers are small, odorless, and tasteless. They range in size from .1 to 10 microns in length (a human hair is about 50 microns in diameter). Because asbestos fibers are small and light, they can be suspended in the air for long periods. People whose work brings them into contact with asbestos may inhale fibers. The amount of asbestos a person is exposed to will vary according to several factors including the fiber concentration in the air, the duration of exposure, the person's breathing rate, the weather conditions, and whether or not protective equipment is worn.
Asbestos has been so widely used in the United States that the entire population has been exposed to some degree. Air, beverages, drinking water, food, drugs, dental preparations, and a variety of consumer products all may contain small amounts of asbestos. In addition, asbestos fibers are released into the environment from outcrops of bedrock in the earth. The asbestos containing rocks release fibers as a result of wind, water and chemical erosion.
If you breathe asbestos fibers into your lungs, some of the fibers will be deposited in the air passages and on the cells that make up your lungs. Most fibers are removed from your lungs by being carried away or coughed up in a layer of mucus in the throat, where they are swallowed into the stomach. This usually takes place within a few hours. Fibers that are deposited in the deepest parts of the lung are removed more slowly. In fact, some fibers may move through your lungs and can remain in place for many years and may never be removed from your body.
If you swallow asbestos fibers (either those present in water or those that are moved to your throat from your lungs), nearly all of the fibers pass along your intestines within a few days and are excreted in the feces. A small number of fibers may penetrate into cells that line your stomach or intestines, and a few penetrate all the way through and get into your blood. If you get asbestos fibers on your skin, very few of these fibers, if any, pass through the skin into your body.
Once inhaled, the small asbestos fibers can penetrate the body's defenses. Because inhaled asbestos fibers remain in the body, each exposure increases the likelihood of developing one or more of the following diseases:
The levels of asbestos in air that lead to lung disease depend on several factors. The most important of these are (1) how long you were exposed, (2) how long it has been since your exposure started, and (3) whether you smoked cigarettes. Cigarette smoking and asbestos exposure increase your chances of getting lung cancer. Also, there is a scientific debate concerning the differences in the extent of disease caused by different fiber types and sizes.
There are currently no means of detecting exposure-related effects from commonly encountered environmental exposures. Low levels of asbestos fibers are found in nearly all people. Higher-than-average levels can show that you have been exposed to asbestos, but it is not yet possible to use the results of this test to estimate how much asbestos you have been exposed to, or to predict whether you are likely to suffer any health effects.
If a person has received sustained exposure to asbestos, a chest x-ray is commonly used. A chest x-ray is recommended for detecting exposure to asbestos only in persons who have sustained relatively heavy exposure. A chest x-ray is of no value for detecting evidence of asbestos exposure in a person whose exposure to asbestos has been only brief or transient. The x-ray cannot detect the asbestos fibers themselves, but it can detect early signs of lung disease caused by asbestos.
The most reliable test to determine if you have been exposed to asbestos is the detection of microscopic asbestos fibers in pieces of lung tissue removed by surgery, but this is a very invasive test. Asbestos fibers can also be detected in mucus, urine, or feces, but these tests are not reliable for determining how much asbestos may be in your lungs.
Please refer to these websites for more information.
- EPA Basic Information
- Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry
- Public Health Statement for Asbestos
Asbestos had been used in a variety of materials and applications for purposes of reinforcement, heat and cold insulation, condensation control, friction, fire protection, sound dampening, decoration, texturing, chemical resistance, and other applications. Asbestos was used in over 3500 types of materials. Some materials, such as vermiculite, might be contaminated with asbestos naturally. Materials which contain more than 1% asbestos are called asbestos-containing materials (ACM). Typically, asbestos is found in thermal system insulation such as pipe and boiler insulation, surfacing material such as fireproofing and wallboard, and miscellaneous materials such as floor and ceiling tiles. In America, asbestos was used in a variety of materials from the late 1800s to the present; however, its use has declined. Contrary to popular belief, asbestos is not banned from all products in America. Certain materials such as floor tile, cement asbestos, adhesives, roofing products, clutch and brake assemblies, etc, might contain asbestos. Prior to purchasing products or materials, determine whether asbestos is present. Asbestos-containing materials are currently being used widely in developing and industrializing countries. For more information on the asbestos ban and phase out, visit EPA's Asbestos Ban and Phaseout page.
You may have run across the terms friable and non-friable asbestos-containing materials. Asbestos regulations define friability as the ability of a dry asbestos-containing material to be crumbled, pulverized, or reduced to powder by hand pressure. Examples of friable asbestos include thermal system insulation and spray-on fireproofing. Asbestos-containing materials such as floor tile, roofing, cement asbestos products, and gaskets are typically non-friable. Be aware that demolition and renovation activities can render non-friable ACM friable, and thus, regulated. Contact the Asbestos Control Program for more information.
Asbestos is a health concern because it is a carcinogen, meaning it causes cancer and other illnesses. Asbestos can break down into very small fibers that can become airborne and stay airborne for a long time. Exposure generally occurs by inhalation or ingestion. Asbestos causes asbestos-related illnesses such as asbestosis, mesothelioma, pleural plagues, and lung cancer. Asbestosis is an illness characterized by the scarring of the lungs that reduces the lungs’ ability to function. Mesothelioma is a cancer of the membrane lining the chest or abdominal cavity specifically related to asbestos. Lung cancer and other diseases have been linked to asbestos exposure. Epidemiological studies (studies of people and diseases) document asbestos-related illnesses caused by exposure to asbestos in many occupations including mining, milling, manufacturing, insulating, shipbuilding, construction, and others.
Cases of asbestos-related illnesses have also been documented in persons exposed to asbestos indirectly in non-occupational settings. Wives, husbands, and children of people who worked with asbestos have contracted asbestos-related illnesses after being exposed to asbestos on the clothes of those people.
Generally, a latency period of 10 to 30 years accompanies asbestos exposure before an asbestos-related illness develops. This latency period is dependent on other factors in a person's life, including whether the affected person smokes or smoked. According to research statistics, a smoker who is exposed to asbestos is over 50-90 times more likely to develop an asbestos-related illness than a non-smoker. The reason why smokers are so susceptible to asbestos is due to the loss of the lungs’ capability to rid itself of fibers.
If you have any questions concerning asbestos, feel free to contact DEQ at (406) 444-5300.
In Montana, involving asbestos in facilities are governed by one or more regulatory autorities, i.e. State of Montana DEQ, EPA, and OSHA; in many cases jurisdictions and regulations overlap.
Asbestos regulatory authorities are:
Another asbestos authority is OSHA. OSHA regulates worker safety and health as they relate to asbestos in the general and construction industries. Prior to initiating construction activities, OSHA's asbestos standard (29 CFR 1926.1101) also requires an asbestos inspection as part of its hazard communication requirement. For more complete information on OSHA's regulatory requirements, contact OSHA at (800) 321-6742, or in Billings at (406) 247-7494.
City or county governments such as local building permitting offices or local environmental health or sanitarian's office may also have asbestos requirements, contact them before initiating demolition or renovation work. City or county governments issue building permits for general renovation/demolition activities; however, don't be tricked assuming that their permit will satisfy the DEQ's asbestos inspection, project permit, and demolition/renovation notification requirements if a residence has become a facility.
One last asbestos authority is the landfill. Prior to initiating asbestos work, contact your local landfill and learn about their asbestos disposal requirements. In many cases landfills do not accept ACM and the last place you want to learn that is at a landfill's gate. According to state of Montana Refuse Disposal Rules and ACP, regulated asbestos waste must be disposed of in a state-approved Class II or IV landfill.
To find currently-accredited Montana inspectors who have agreed to release their information to the public, click on the Current Accreditations link below, enter a city if you want a specific city (please note that you will obtain a broader response by leaving city blank), select Inspector from the Accreditation Type drop down list, and click submit. Please remember that this list displays only currently Montana-accredited Asbestos Inspectors who have agreed to release their information to the public.
Link: Current Accreditations
The Contractors and Consultants page contains listings of contractors and consultants with accredited personnel who can perform asbestos-related activities in Montana.
This search tool is designed to assist you in finding Montana-accredited Asbestos Inspectors who have agreed to release their information to the public.
This search tool will return approved Asbestos Project Permits with project dates greater than the search date used.
As a courtesy, the ACP is providing a link to the Meth Contaminated Property list which identifies properties contaminated by the production of methoamphetamine. In some cases, asbestos-containing materials must also be addressed when there is a possibility of impacting building materials. DEQ is currently helping property owners comply with the laws and rules during the cleanup of property contaminated by methamphetamine production.
The list of Montana landfills that are approved Class II landfills that accept friable asbestos-containing waste are located here. Contact the landfill before transporting waste to their facility to ensure they are accepting friable asbestos-containing waste and other regulatory requirements.
Solid Waste Program
Department of Environmental Quality
Waste and Underground Tank Management Bureau
PO Box 200901
Helena, MT 59620-0901
Asbestos Control Program
Department of Environmental Quality
Waste and Underground Tank Management Bureau
PO Box 200901
Helena, MT 59620-0901
The Montana Department of Environmental Quality is charged with protecting a clean and healthy environment as guaranteed to our citizens by our State Constitution. Our ultimate goal is to protect public health and to maintain Montana's
high quality of life for current and future generations.