Asbestos/Vermiculite Guidance

The New York State Department of Health (“DOH”) released a new guidance document to clarify questions and concerns about asbestos in vermiculate-containing materials (July 9, 2013 Guidance Letter”).  Previously, the DOH issued a list of FAQs concerning fiber analysis and asbestos-containing materials (“ACM”); FAQ #10, which discussed vermiculite-containing materials, was subsequently updated to address, among other things, testing protocols (“June 22, 2012 Guidance letter”).  This update, however, lacked sufficient clarity and simply led to greater confusion about standards and methods that may be used to properly test for asbestos in vermiculite-containing materials.  Consequently, the DOH released the July 9, 2013 Guidance Letter to alleviate previous concerns, and it now “supersedes and replaces FAQ #10, as well as the June 22, 2012 Guidance Letter.”

In sum, the July 9, 2013 Guidance Letter clarifies various approved testing methods.  First, “[i]f material is attic fill, block fill or other loose bulk vermiculite materials, it must be designated and treated as ACM.” Because according to NYSDOH, “[n]o approved analytical method currently exists to reliably confirm such vermiculite material as non-ACM.”  Second, “where thermal systems insulation (“TSI”), surfacing material or other presumed ACM (“PACM”) or miscellaneous suspect ACM contain 10% vermiculite or less, certified labs may use ELAP Certification Manual Item 198.1” for asbestos content analysis.   Lastly, “where TSI, surfacing materials, or other PACM or miscellaneous suspect ACM contain greater than 10% vermiculite, Item 198.6 may be used to evaluate the asbestos content of the material; provided, however, that any test results using this method must be reported with” a DOH approved conspicuous disclaimer.