As Environmental Consultants, we are well versed in asbestos and have answered countless questions on the topic during our 30+ years in the industry. We’re typically addressing asbestos concerns when speaking with our clients or other members of their project team, during our Asbestos Awareness training seminars, and when speaking with conscientious homeowners who are looking to educate themselves on the topic. The demand for concise information on the topic of Asbestos is still high despite it having been around for so long, which is why we sat down with our Asbestos Division Manager, Steve Cherepany, to assemble a list of frequently asked questions.

Q.  What materials can contain asbestos?

A.  The short answer is that any building material that is not metal, wood, or glass can potentially contain asbestos. The following is a partial list of building materials that may potentially contain asbestos:

  • Cement Pipes, Wallboard, & Siding
  • Asphalt & Vinyl Floor Tile
  • Floor Backing & Mastic
  • Construction Mastics (used to adhere tile, carpet, ceiling tiles, etc.)
  • Acoustical & Decorative Plaster
  • Textured Paints & Coatings
  • Ceiling Tiles
  • Spray-Applied Insulation
  • Fireproofing Materials
  • Taping Compounds
  • Thermal Packing Materials (for wall/floor penetrations)
  • High-Temperature Gaskets
  • Laboratory Hoods
  • Table Tops
  • Fire Curtains
  • Elevator Equipment Panels
  • Elevator Brake Shoes
  • HVAC Duct Insulation
  • Boiler & Breaching Insulation
  • Ductwork Flexible
  • Fabric Connections
  • Cooling Towers
  • Pipe Insulation (corrugated, air-cell, block, etc.)
  • Heating & Electrical Ducts
  • Electrical Panel Partitions
  • Electrical Cloth
  • Electric Wiring Insulation
  • Chalkboards
  • Roofing Shingles
  • Roofing Felt
  • Roll Roofing
  • Roof Patching
  • Cement Base flashing
  • Thermal Paper Products
  • Fire Door Insulation
  • Caulking & Putty Adhesives
  • Wallboard
  • Joint Compounds
  • Vinyl Wall Coverings
  • Spackling Compounds

Q.  Do I have to test for asbestos?

A.  As per Section 112 of the Clean Air Act, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) National Emission Standards for Hazardous Air Pollutants (NESHAP) states that you must test for asbestos-containing materials (ACMs) before starting building renovations or demolition. This regulation requires that a thorough inspection of the structure be completed, as well as an inspection of any areas that will be affected by renovations and repair.  This includes buildings constructed after 1980 since ACMs can still be found in modern-day building materials. You should refer to the EPAs website for exemptions to this regulation.

Q.  What is an ACP-5 form?

A.  An ACP-5 form is specific to NYC. If you’re planning to do any type of building demolition or renovation in NYC, you’ll need an ACP-5 form prior to starting work. This form is part of the New York City Department of Environmental Protection (NYC DEP) Asbestos Control Program (ACP). An ACP-5 form is issued after an asbestos survey has been performed by a certified NYC DEP Asbestos Investigator. An ACP-5 form states one of the following things:

  • the project site or work area does not have asbestos
  • the project site or work area does have asbestos that will not be impacted by the proposed project
  • the project site or work area does have asbestos but it is a minor amount that will be abated (removed) before demolition or renovation activities begin

In order to issue an ACP-5, the Asbestos Investigator must have demolition/renovation architectural plans and PW-1s (NYC DOB Planned Work Application).

Q.  I have asbestos in my building, what do I need to do?

A.  Asbestos-containing materials that aren’t damaged or disturbed are not likely to pose a health risk. Typically, if the ACM is in good condition, the best thing to do is to leave the ACM alone. Generally, ACM that is in good condition and will not be disturbed by renovations/remodeling, will not release asbestos fibers.  However, if you have a renovation or demolition project that will disturb/impact ACM, you’ll need to hire a trained and accredited Asbestos Professional prior to starting any work.

ACMs can release fibers when they are disturbed, damaged, removed improperly, repaired, cut, torn, sanded, sawed, drilled, or scraped.  Keep an eye on ACMs and visually check them over time for signs of wear or damage. Signs of wear or damage include tears, abrasions, and water damage. ACMs may be damaged by hitting/bumping, rubbing, or handling the material. Wear or damage may also be the result of extreme vibration or air flow. If you suspect that a material may contain asbestos, don’t touch it. Instead, limit access to the area and contact a trained and accredited Asbestos Professional.

Q.  What is the best way to deal with asbestos?

A.  There are two options: Repair or Removal. Both options require a trained and accredited Asbestos Professional.

Repair usuallys involves either sealing or covering the ACM. With any type of repair, the asbestos remains in place.

  • Sealing (encapsulation) involves treating the materials with a sealant that either binds the asbestos fibers together or coats the material so fibers are not released. Pipe, furnace, and boiler insulation can sometimes be repaired this way. Again, this should be done by a professional trained to handle asbestos safely.
  • Covering (enclosure) involves placing something over or around the ACM to prevent the release of fibers. For example, exposed insulated piping may be covered with a protective wrap or jacket.

Removal may be required when performing work will disturb ACMs.  Removal, more commonly referred to as abatement, is complex and must be done by a trained and accredited Asbestos Professional. Improper removal may increase human exposure to asbestos fibers.

Q.  What is Hillmann’s role?

A.  We are Environmental Consultants so our main role is to conduct the asbestos survey and third-party asbestos abatement air monitoring. We perform other Asbestos Services as well, but we do not perform asbestos abatement.

Q.  Why should a prospective client hire Hillmann?

A.  Simply put, we are a true partner to the clients we serve. We know that each client is unique and we seek to understand their business, goals, objectives, and methods.

We specialize in doing work in high-end hotels, high-rise office buildings and residences, retail spaces, private schools, and hospitals. While NYC represents a major market for asbestos-related services, we perform these services nationwide. Each of our offices is staffed with personnel who are appropriately certified/licensed to perform Asbestos Services in that specific geographic location.  We also maintain a fully accredited Laboratory which puts our team in direct contact with the Laboratory Analysts responsible for analyzing the samples collected by our Asbestos Professionals. In fact, several other Environmental Consultants utilize our Laboratory for their sample analysis as well.


If you still have questions, that’s ok because we’re here to help! Just drop us a line and we’ll get back to you shortly.