The use of asbestos in buildings is common knowledge, with building industry professionals aware of the need for regulatory compliance when working around, or subcontracting out abatement services. However, it is often a surprise for bridge maintenance firms and even transportation agency personnel to learn that bridges can contain asbestos components and that they are subject to similar stringent abatement regulations and processes too.

Various asbestos containing materials (ACM) and asbestos-containing surfacing materials (ASCM) were historically applied in significant quantities to concrete bridges. During renovation (surface preparation for overcoating or total coating removal and replacement) or demolition of the structure, asbestos may be emitted into the air, creating an airborne hazard to humans and the environment.

There are specific EPA, OSHA and State regulations regarding this type of activity. EPA's National Emission Standards for Hazardous Air Pollutants (NESHAP) requires an inspection for the presence of asbestos-containing materials prior to renovation and/or demolition of a facility or a facility component.

If ACM is present then specific work practices and notifications are required to be implemented under the NESHAP. Further, OSHA's asbestos regulation (29 CFR 1926.1101) contains specific requirements regarding employee training, personal protective equipment, exposure monitoring, waste packaging, medical surveillance, etc. Lastly, States may have specific requirements for managing and disposing ACM.

This Presentation covers the regulatory framework for renovations, demolitions and repainting of concrete bridges where ACM is present and an overview of traditional and novel approaches concerning the issue.


Asbestos containing textured coatings and other various asbestos containing components are not often thought of as being used on bridges. However, their use on bridges, especially concrete bridges is widespread in some regions and because of this, specific regulatory compliance is required. Knowing how to comply and how proper abatement is performed will keep the contractors and facility owners in compliance, avoid associated liabilities, provide proper employee safety and keep bridge maintenance projects on schedule.

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