Asbestos and Other Regulated Building Materials

Building materials can contain a number of hazardous components that, if disturbed, can pose a health risk to workers and occupants.

Regulated building materials pose no health risk when left alone and intact; however, during maintenance, renovation or demolition, materials that may pose health risks must be managed, abated and disposed of appropriately according to regulations.

Regulated building materials include, but are not be limited to:

Regulated building materials may exist in building materials such as walls, floors, ceilings, insulation, caulk, glazing, mastic, paint, light fixtures, fireproofing, equipment and other materials. During building renovation, demolition or maintenance, specific federal, state, and local health and safety regulations governing these materials will apply to workers, including training, work practices, disposal, and other regulations. 

The UW Administrative Policy Statement 12.1, Managing Asbestos and Other Regulated Building Materials, applies at all locations including, but not limited to: the Seattle campus, UW Bothell, UW Tacoma, UW Medical Center, Harborview Medical Center, jointly-owned facilities; all other University-owned, managed, or operated properties; University leased space as tenant or landlord; and research vessels that are owned or operated by the University.

This policy clarifies and guides departments in their roles and responsibilities to ensure compliance with regulated building material regulations. Failure to follow regulations could cause possible exposure and health issues or result in clean-up costs, regulatory fines, and increased risk of liability to the University.

Detailed information about specific regulated building materials and their management is given in the Reference Files section.

What you need to know

EH&S has overall responsibility to assure compliance with the regulations that govern the management of regulated building materials.   

However, it is the responsibility of each organizational unit and/or department involved in the planning, leasing or selling of real estate, capital construction and demolition projects, maintenance, repair and renovation of University properties to develop specific safety plans that meet the requirements of all EH&S policies and procedures for the management of all regulated building materials.

Many of the buildings on the campus were constructed in the mid 1900’s with Denny Hall being the oldest building, constructed in 1894. Asbestos was used during the construction of buildings through the 1970’s, thus many buildings on campus are known to have asbestos-containing building materials. These materials are routinely inspected, and if in poor condition, it is removed or clearly labeled in restricted areas. Remaining asbestos-containing materials are in good physical condition.

While intact, asbestos does not pose a hazard, but if disturbed, an individual can develop mesothelioma or lung cancer if chronically exposed to airborne asbestos fibers. Due to the presence of the variety and prevalence of asbestos-containing materials on campus, EH&S has developed a University of Washington Asbestos Management Plan. This plan specifies the requirements that all organizational units and departments must adhere to when managing asbestos-containing materials within their respective organizations.

Requirements for the management of other regulated building materials that may pose health and environmental hazards that are less prevalent than asbestos in building materials are covered in individual focus sheets.

Prevent exposure to asbestos-containing materials

Take the following measures to prevent exposure to asbestos-containing materials:

1. All employees are required to complete the Asbestos General Awareness-Online training.

2. Respect warning signs and labels. They are required to indicate asbestos-containing materials or where access is restricted to spaces above ceilings, shafts, concealed spaces, restricted areas or where unlabeled asbestos-containing materials are present.

3. Report any damaged building materials that contain (or are presumed to contain) asbestos, such as ceiling tiles, floor tiles, insulation and fireproofing to your facilities department. On the Seattle campus, report it to the Facilities Regulated Materials Office.

4. Comply with UW Administrative Policy Statement (APS) 56.6 Alterations to UW Seattle Campus Buildings and Grounds.

5. Always request a building materials survey from your facilities department to test for regulated building materials before any alterations or renovations to a building occur, including but not limited to:

  • Hanging pictures
  • Installing cabinets
  • Installing bookshelves
  • Modifying doors, walls, ceilings, etc.

Requirements for workers to prevent exposures

Take required training specific for the types of regulated building materials you may be exposed to while working.

Follow safe work practices and wear your personal protective equipment (PPE).

Notify your supervisor if you encounter potential regulated building materials where not expected or anticipated.

Report any work-related injury or illness to your supervisor as soon as possible. Then report it to EH&S via the UW Online Accident Reporting System (OARS) within 24 hours.

Services available

EH&S provides air sampling for establishing initial exposure determinations for workers potentially exposed to regulated building materials during their work activities. A negative exposure assessment can result in reducing the level of respiratory protective equipment required for a specific activity and condition.


For health and safety information and specific guidelines and procedures regarding asbestos-containing materials and regulated building materials, contact EH&S at 206.543.7262 or

Contact the Facilities Regulated Materials Office to report suspected damage to asbestos-containing materials or regulated building materials.

More Information

Frequently asked questions