Asbestos: What is it and why is it a concern?

Air Pollution Control Program fact sheet
Division of Environmental Quality Director: Ed Galbraith

Disclaimer: The statements in this document are intended solely as guidance. This document is not intended, nor can it be relied on, to create any rights enforceable by any party in litigation. This guidance may be revised without public notice to reflect changes in law, regulation or policy.


This document is one in a series of fact sheets designed to assist you in becoming aware of the Missouri Department of Natural Resources’ asbestos requirements. This particular document contains general information about asbestos such as where it may be found and the dangers it may pose. This document also identifies regulatory agencies that govern asbestos removal activities.

What is Asbestos?

Asbestos is a naturally occurring mineral fiber. Because of its unique properties, such as fire resistance, high tensile strength, poor heat and electric conductivity, and being generally impervious to chemical attacks, it was used in a number of different materials, mainly building products and brake pads, up into the 1970’s. It may still be found in some products currently being manufactured.

It is estimated there have been more than 3,000 different commercial applications of asbestos-containing materials, or ACM. Some examples of potential asbestos-containing materials include cementitious siding and wallboard (transite), asphalt and vinyl floor tile, linoleum, flooring mastics, textured paints, acoustical plaster, ceiling tiles and panels, fireproofing materials, theatre curtains, blown-in insulation, boiler insulation, HVAC duct insulation, pipe insulation, chalkboards, roofing shingles and felts, joint compounds, spackling compounds and brake pads.

Asbestos fibers are very small and are invisible to the naked eye. They can only be positively identified with a special type of microscope. Asbestos fibers may range in size from less than one micron to 30 microns in length. Put into perspective, there are 25,400 microns in an inch.

Health Effects
Because of the microscopic nature of asbestos fibers, they can easily be inhaled into the lungs where they can eventually lead to disease. There are three major health risks associated with asbestos exposure: asbestosis, mesothelioma and lung cancer. Studies have also indicated cancers of the mouth, throat, digestive tract and other organs may be caused by asbestos as well. There is currently no known safe level of asbestos exposure.

Regulatory Agencies
There are several agencies that regulate asbestos because of its associated dangers. The Missouri Department of Natural Resources is the state agency responsible for governing asbestos abatement projects in Missouri. There are also several federal agencies that govern asbestos activities. These include the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), the U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), and the Department of Transportation (DOT).

Missouri Department of Natural Resources Requirements
The Missouri Department of Natural Resources is a delegated agency of the EPA for the purposes of administering 40 CFR Part 61, Subpart M, the National Emission Standard for Asbestos, commonly referred to as the asbestos NESHAP. This body of regulation contains requirements for asbestos inspection, project notification, emission control procedures for asbestos removal, and asbestos waste disposal.

In addition to the requirements of the federal asbestos NESHAP, the department has additional state regulations that govern asbestos activities. These regulations include requirements for trained and registered contractors to perform asbestos abatement work. These regulations also ensure that individuals who perform asbestos inspections, and who design and work on asbestos abatement projects, are properly trained by accredited training providers and certified by the department. The department’s regulations governing asbestos are available at 10 CSR 10-6.241 and 10 CSR 10-6.250.

In some cases, the department has delegated the requirements for enforcement of the asbestos NESHAP to local agencies. Contact information for these agencies is available in this document. As delegated agencies of the EPA, the department and the local agencies must enforce requirements at least as stringent as federal requirements. However, delegated agencies may have other requirements in addition to the federal requirements. It is important to contact the appropriate agency regarding additional requirements that may apply to your project.

EPA Requirements
EPA has two additional laws, which it enforces; the Asbestos Hazardous Emergency Response Act (AHERA), and the EPA Worker Protection Rule. AHERA contains specific rules for identifying and managing asbestos-containing materials in school buildings. The Worker Protection Rule extends worker protection standards to workers not previously covered by OSHA, primarily governmental employees. For questions about requirements under AHERA or the EPA Worker Protection Rule, you should contact EPA at 800-223-0425 or 913-551-7003.

OSHA Requirements
OSHA requirements are in place to ensure the protection of workers who must work with, or around, asbestos-containing materials. These requirements include such things as mandatory training for employees whose work involves asbestos-containing materials, requirements for use of personal protective equipment such as respirators and protective clothing, and specific work practices that must be followed for the removal of different types of asbestos-containing materials. The department recommends individuals who will undertake projects involving asbestos-containing materials, whether regulated by the department or not, perform the projects
in accordance with all applicable OSHA requirements. This will help to ensure those performing the project will be adequately protected from asbestos exposure.

For more information about OSHA requirements you may contact their office at:

Kansas City Area Office St. Louis Area Office
2300 Main St., Suite 168 1222 Spruce St., Room 9.104
Kansas City, MO 64108 St. Louis, MO 63103
816-483-9531 314-425-4249, 314-425-4255 Voicemail
816-483-9724 fax 314-425-4289 fax
Toll Free {MO residents only}: 800-892-2674 Toll Free (MO residents only): 800-392-7743

Department of Transportation Requirements
The DOT regulates the transportation of asbestos-containing materials on public roadways. If you are transporting asbestos waste, the vehicle being used must be properly placarded in accordance with their requirements. For more information about DOT requirements, contact their office at 202-366-4000.

Asbestos Contact Information
For more information on the department’s asbestos requirements, contact the department’s Air Pollution Control Program or one of the department’s other offices listed below:

Local Agencies
In Missouri, there are two local agencies that have an agreement with the department to enforce Missouri’s asbestos requirements as well as local ordinances. These local agencies are:

Jurisdiction Agency Telephone
Kansas City Kansas City Health Department
Air Quality Program
St. Louis County St. Louis County Health Department 314-615-8924

Two additional local agencies do not enforce Missouri’s asbestos requirements but may have local ordinances concerning asbestos which they enforce:

Jurisdiction Agency Telephone
St. Louis (city) St. Louis Division of Air Pollution Control
Air Quality Program
Springfield Springfield-Greene County Health Department of Environmental Services 417-864-1412

Prior to performing a project in one of these jurisdictions, you should contact the appropriate agency to determine if any additional requirements apply.

Missouri Department of Natural Resources
Air Pollution Control Program
P.O. Box 176
Jefferson City, MO 65102
573-751-2706 fax

Department of Natural Resources Regional Offices
Regional Offices

Kansas City Regional Office
500 NE Colbern Road
Lee's Summit, MO 64086-4710
816-622-7044 fax

Northeast Regional Office
1709 Prospect Dr.
Macon, MO 63552-2602
660-385-8090 fax

St. Louis Regional Office
7545 S. Lindbergh, Suite 210
St. Louis, MO 63125
314-416-2970 fax

Southeast Regional Office
2155 N. Westwood Blvd.
Poplar Bluff, MO 63901
573-840-9754 fax

Southwest Regional Office
2040 W. Woodland
Springfield, MO 65807-5912
417-891-4399 fax

Additional Asbestos Related Guidance Documents
For more specific information about the department’s requirements in regard to asbestos, reference the additional guidance documents listed below or contact the department or appropriate local agency at the contact information found in this fact sheet.

These documents are available for free download from the department’s website at