Asbestos in Alaska

Alaska is often referred to as America’s last frontier. It’s abundance of natural resources and extraordinary beauty attracts adventurous and independent residents. The northernmost state is interesting in many respects, but little though of is its prominence in natural asbestos deposits. When we think of the dangers of living in Alaska, we think of wild animals, harsh climate, and millions of miles of frozen tundra. We do not often think of the dangers of naturally occurring asbestos, though it is a very real threat.

Throughout the panhandle region there are four areas rich with natural asbestos. They are found along the Yukon River, in the Kobuk Valley, in the Wrangell-St. Elias National Park, and in the major cities of Juneau and Ketchikan. If asbestos fibers become airborne, whether through natural erosion or destruction of asbestos-containing man-made products, the risks to human health are severe and often fatal. The inhalation of asbestos fibers is proven to cause mesothelioma, lung cancer, and asbestosis, as well as increase risks of numerous other cancers. Asbestos attorneys at Pintas & Mullins Law Firm warn Alaskan residents of potential asbestos exposure and remind the public that no amount is safe.

Pre-existing asbestos-containing products also present a threat to public health. Asbestos can also be found in many of the products that are in use today. Most of these are commercial materials used in heat and acoustic insulation, fire proofing, roofing and flooring such as:

  • Cement shingles, flat sheets, corrugated sheets
  • Vinyl/asbestos floor tiles, felt flooring
  • Pipe and furnace wraps, roll board, millboard
  • Friction products (brake pads, blocks, etc)
  • Textured paints and other coating materials

To avoid release of the microscopic fibers in the air, leave the asbestos-containing materials in good condition alone. If you suspect the material is becoming damaged due to weathering, you should contact an asbestos professional for consultation. In most of the cases, asbestos-containing materials may not need to be removed but repaired by asbestos professional.

Contacts:

Given the large potential sources of asbestos exposure in Alaska, it is critical to have contact information in case you think you encounter asbestos. For more information on the removal and disposal procedures in Alaska, please contact:

John Pavitt US EPA, Region 10, Alaska Operations Office (907) 271-3688 (907) 271-3424 (Fax)
email: Pavitt.John@epamail.epa.gov
In addition to contact information for those seeking asbestos removal, it is also important for those trained in asbestos removal to have current information on standards and licensing procedures in Alaska. Contact Dave Green for this information:

Dave Green
Health Consultant
3301 Eagle Street Suite 305
Anchorage, AK 99503
907 269-4941 dave_green@state.ak.us
Brief Summary: Alaska’s Legal Stance on Asbestos

Alaska has collected a lot of informative materials for their residents about asbestos and when it becomes dangerous. The following information will give you an overview of asbestos risks according to the state of Alaska.

Asbestos is inert and non-reactive as long as it is undisturbed. However, if the material is disturbed and the fibers become airborne, they can cause serious lung and health problems. It is impossible to identify asbestos-containing materials by sight. A laboratory examination of the material using specialized microscopes is necessary to determine if asbestos fibers are present within the material.

Material that contains 1% or more of asbestos is termed Asbestos-Containing Material (ACM). By definition, material that contains less than 1% asbestos is not considered ACM. There are two types of ACM:

  • Regulated Asbestos-Containing Material (RACM) includes any ACM that is friable*, or is likely to become friable due to the methods used for demolition, renovation, or disposal.
    • Friable: Used to describe ACM that, when dry, can be crumbled, pulverized, or reduced to powder by hand pressure.
  • Non-Regulated Asbestos-Containing Material (non-RACM) refers to ACM that is non-friable. Non-RACM waste must be handled carefully to prevent damage that could cause it to become friable. Non-RACM waste can become RACM waste if it is damaged so much so that asbestos fibers may be released.


The removal of asbestos is regulated by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) under federal regulations. Questions regarding the regulations and requirements applicable to a specific project should be addressed to Anchorage office of the EPA at (907) 271-3688.

If you suspect asbestos exposure, contact an experienced asbestos attorney today for a free consultation.

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