Non-friable asbestos is any material that has been processed in such a way that its individual particles are less likely to be released into the air and inhaled. This processing generally includes crushing, milling, or cutting the material into smaller pieces before shaping it.
Friable asbestos is any material that has not been processed in this manner, leaving it intact with the ability to release individual particles into the air upon contact with something like water or heat. Examples include spray-on insulation and pipe-wrap materials.
What is friability?
Friable asbestos is a type of asbestos that can be crumbled or pulverized by hand pressure into long, thin fibers. This means that friable asbestos is more likely to be released into the air when disturbed and can easily become airborne if it's not properly handled.
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency defines friable asbestos as: "asbestos-containing material in which one percent or more of the area contains visible amphibole fibers as determined by phase contrast microscopic examination."
Why is friability important?
Friable asbestos is more likely to release particles into the air and be disturbed than non-friable asbestos. This means that friable asbestos is more likely to be inhaled, which can lead to lung damage. Because of this, OSHA's regulation includes a requirement that friable asbestos must be removed by trained professionals in special facilities.
To understand why an employer needs to know whether an asbestos material is friable or not, let's look at how a worker might handle the material on their own:
Asbestos materials that are non-friable
If you are remodeling an older home, there is a good chance that you will come across materials containing asbestos. It is important to know when a material is friable and when it is not so that you can handle it safely and legally. To do this, keep in mind the following guidelines:
- Asbestos-cement pipe, asbestos-cement roofing, asbestos-cement shingles, asbestos-cement siding and asbestos-cement wallboard are all non-friable (meaning they cannot be easily crumbled or reduced to powder) because they have been mixed with other ingredients such as fibers or cement to form hard materials. They include pipes used for air conditioning systems; insulation products used around boilers; shingles used on roofs; sidings found on houses; walls between rooms where heat/air conditioning units were once installed (these walls are usually smooth but may contain other nonfriable building materials like plaster).
Non-friable asbestos is at a lower risk of exposure than friable asbestos.
Non-friable asbestos material is at a lower risk of exposure than friable asbestos because it is less likely to be disturbed. Non-friable materials are usually encapsulated in a solid material, such as concrete or mortar. Although this can make them difficult to remove before they are demolished or renovated, it also means that there is less chance that the user will be exposed to any airborne fibers.
If you breathe in non-friable asbestos dust, you may develop scarring on your lungs and other health problems like asbestosis (a chronic condition that affects the lungs), mesothelioma (cancer), or lung cancer from long-term exposure to asbestos fibers. If a person breathes in friable asbestos dust for many years, they have an increased risk of developing these conditions earlier in life than someone who does not inhale friable materials regularly; however, once someone develops one of these diseases from breathing in friable materials like vermiculite insulation or joint compound with tremolite content (or other types of products containing amphibole chrysotile) then their risk may still increase even further because their lungs have already been compromised by years' worth of exposure and therefore become more vulnerable when coming into contact with another harmful substance such as cigarette smoke etcetera..
Non-friable asbestos products are a safe and effective way to protect workers from the dangers of inhaling airborne asbestos dust. The friability of a material is just one factor in determining its safety, but it’s an important one. Non-friable materials are less likely to cause problems if they come into contact with human skin or mucous membranes because they don’t crumble easily. When choosing an asbestos product for your business, keep these considerations in mind!