Friable Asbestos Information and Definition

  • According to OSHA, friable asbestos is asbestos that can be easily crumbled, making it release breathable asbestos fibers. It’s worth noting that asbestos isn’t dangerous in its compact state. In fact, asbestos has many notable uses ranging from insulation to fireproofing and soundproofing.

When crumbled, asbestos releases breathable fibers that can be easily inhaled and ingested to cause serious health problems such as cancer (mesothelioma and other cancers like lung cancer).

Non-friable asbestos

Not all asbestos is friable. Examples of non-friable asbestos include products like tiles and roofing made using vinyl-asbestos. This type of asbestos stays intact and rarely emits airborne asbestos fibers unless it is sanded, sawed, or subjected to other aggressive operations. Generally, all asbestos-containing materials are friable if they can be easily crumbled or reduced to powder using hand pressure.

Non-friable asbestos can become friable during demolitions or renovations that include removing asbestos-containing materials like tiles from a floor.


Types of non-friable asbestos-containing materials

Non-friable asbestos-containing materials can be categorized into two main types, namely category I and category II non-friable asbestos-containing materials. Category I includes resilient flooring (such as vinyl asbestos tiles), and asphalt roofing products that rarely crumble since the asbestos is secured in place inside the material.

Category II non-friable asbestos-containing materials are likely to be friable since they aren’t resistant to pulverizing or crushing.


Examples of friable and non-friable asbestos-containing materials

  • Asphalt roofing is generally non-friable. The roofing might release some asbestos during a renovation.
  • Roofing felts are generally friable even during renovation.
  • Cement tiles and roofing shingles are generally non-friable attributable to the strong physical and chemical links between the cement and other materials forming the roofing. The tiles and shingles rarely release asbestos fibers even under heavy wind and water erosion.
  • Cement siding is generally non-friable, especially if the paint is still intact. However, areas such as doors that face impact may exhibit signs of asbestos.

Friable Asbestos

Why is friability important in asbestos-containing materials?

When discussing friability, it’s important to understand the fact that the term asbestos is used to refer to a variety of fibrous naturally occurring minerals that share the same characteristics. Asbestos is a combination of these minerals to form long, thin fibers easily separable from each other.

Asbestos has impressive qualities such as heat resistance. The minerals that make up asbestos don’t burn. They also have high tensile strength, chemical resistance, and flexibility. However, different asbestos-containing materials are made differently, dictating the degree to which they can crumble.

Friability dictates whether asbestos-containing material will increase the risk of mesothelioma, lung cancer, and other ailments like asbestosis that can wait for decades after exposure before they manifest.

While asbestosis is noncancerous, the lung disease scars the lungs. It is common among individuals heavily exposed to materials containing asbestos at work as well as families of asbestos workers since asbestos fibers can remain on the clothes, tools, and skin of workers. In summary, understanding friability in asbestos-containing materials is the difference between getting asbestos-linked ailments.


Dealing with friable asbestos-containing materials


Friable asbestos-containing materials shouldn’t be handled by individuals who aren’t trained on asbestos awareness. In fact, individuals working in industries such as real estate, construction, housekeeping, cleaning, etc., are required by OSHA to undergo asbestos awareness training before handling asbestos-containing materials. The mandatory training should be done annually.

Luckily, asbestos awareness training can be found easily online on Haztrainer offers OSHA-certified online lead and asbestos awareness training. Trainees can train from anywhere at their convenience and receive certificates online on completion.

Workers who come into contact with materials they suspect have asbestos in them should enclose such materials carefully in an airtight container or plastic wrapping. If the asbestos-containing material is old flooring, new flooring can be installed over old flooring. New exterior sheathing can be put over siding suspected to contain asbestos. Asbestos-containing materials shouldn’t be handled without the right protective materials (gloves and mask).

All in all, employers with workers in areas containing asbestos must facilitate proper asbestos awareness training. Haztrainer undoubtedly offers the most affordable, convenient, easiest, and fastest ways to meet mandatory lead and asbestos awareness requirements.

For individuals keen on answering what is friable asbestos and other important questions, Haztrainer stands out for specific online asbestos awareness training benefits such as using video training, offering training via a certified instructor, and prize winning incentives. The training is also flexible i.e., it can be done anywhere, paused and offered to an individual or groups.