Managing Hazardous Waste

We strengthen regulations and streamline waste management

Regulatory Assistance for Managing Asbestos Hazardous Waste

What is Asbestos?

Asbestos is a common name for a group of naturally occurring fibrous silicate minerals that are made up of thin but strong durable fibers. These fibers generally vary in size and physical shape. Because of its physical properties, asbestos has been used extensively in construction and many other industries. For example, asbestos is commonly found in a variety of man-made products including insulation, ceiling and floor tiles, roof shingles, cement, automotive brakes and clutches. As a result, building remodeling and demolition projects produce much of the asbestos waste we see today. When asbestos is a hazardous waste, DTSC regulates the packaging, onsite accumulation, transportation, and disposal of hazardous asbestos waste.

Do I have to manage asbestos as a hazardous waste?

DTSC classifies asbestos-containing material as hazardous waste if it is “friable” and contains one percent (1.0%) or more asbestos. A friable waste is one that can be reduced to a powder or dust under hand pressure when dry. This classification standard is given in California Code of Regulations, title 22, section 66261.24(a)(2)(A). Because the United States Environmental Protection Agency (U.S. EPA) does not regulate asbestos as hazardous waste under the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act (RCRA), it is considered to be a “non-RCRA” hazardous waste. However, various state and federal regulations address other aspects of asbestos management, such as asbestos abatement.

DTSC considers non-friable bulk asbestos-containing waste to be non-hazardous regardless of its asbestos content, so it is not subject to regulation under California Code of Regulations, title 22, division 4.5. However, other regulatory agencies may have their own requirements or restrictions on asbestos management.

How do I determine whether my asbestos waste must be handled as a hazardous waste?

If you are not certain whether your asbestos waste is hazardous, you must have it tested [Cal. Code Regs., tit. 22, § 66262.11(b)(2)] by a laboratory certified by the State Water Resources Control Board, Environmental Laboratory Accreditation Program (ELAP).

The lab will determine the percentage of friable asbestos in the material. The cost for bulk asbestos testing varies significantly, depending primarily on the analytical method used, the type of sampling that is required and who collects the samples.

Do I need to contact other agencies regarding asbestos activities?

Yes, several federal, state and local agencies regulate asbestos. Generally, worker exposure is regulated by the Federal Occupational Safety and Health Administration and its California counterpart Cal/OSHA.

Atmospheric emissions of asbestos are regulated under the Federal National Emission Standard for Hazardous Air Pollutants, which is enforced locally by your Air Pollution Control District.

Asbestos removal and abatement contractors must be certified in asbestos abatement by the Contractors State Licensing Board in order to perform asbestos-related work in California. For more detailed information on the management of asbestos hazardous waste, go to our Managing Asbestos Hazardous Waste web page.