Asbestos Information

Asbestos is a mineral fiber that occurs naturally in rock and soil.  Asbestos fibers are very strong and heat resistant, which made its use ideal for insulation, fire proofing and sound protection.  Archeological evidence suggests that it has been in use since 2500 B.C.  It’s mining and use grew exponentially during the Industrial Era of the 1800s and continued through World War II.   

Because of its many useful properties and relatively low production cost, asbestos was used in a wide range of manufactured goods, mostly in building materials (roofing shingles, ceiling and floor tiles, paper products, and asbestos cement products), and friction products (automobile clutch, brake, and transmission parts), heat-resistant fabrics, packaging, gaskets, and coatings.

In the 1960s, it was discovered that asbestos was carcinogenic and directly caused serious disease.  The three major health effects associated with long-term asbestos exposure are:

  1. Lung cancer
  2. Mesothelioma:  A rare form of cancer that is found in the thin lining of the lung, chest and the abdomen and heart
  3. Asbestosis:  A serious progressive, long-term, non-cancer disease of the lungs

Because of these health risks, some asbestos usage, but not all, was outlawed in 1978.  To see a list of banned and non-banned asbestos products click here.

Is There Asbestos On Campus?

In accordance with section 25915 of the California Health and Safety Code we are providing notice that the following buildings were built prior to 1978 and therefore may contain asbestos: 


Health Building

Sweeney Hall


Hugh Gillis Hall

Tower Hall

Boccardo Business Complex

Industrial Studies

Washburn Hall

Business Tower

IRC Richard B Lewis

Washington Square Hall

Central Classroom Building

Joe West Hall

Yoshihiro Uchida Hall

Central Plant

MacQuarrie Hall


Computer Center

Morris Dailey Auditorium


Dining Commons

Music Building


Dudley Moorhead Hall

North Parking Facility


Duncan Hall

Science Building


Dwight Bentel Hall

South Parking Facility


Engineering Building

Spartan Memorial


Faculty Office Building

Spartan Complex



The most common materials where asbestos might be found in these buildings are:

  • Acoustical (Popcorn) Ceiling Material    
  • Transite Flue Pipes
  • Thermal Systems Insulation (TSI)
  • Floor Tile and Adhesive
  • Fire Doors
  • Fire Proofing
  • Sheet Flooring Products
  • Gypsum Wallboard Joint Compound or Texturing Materials
  • Roofing Materials
  • Exterior Stucco or siding
  • Transite panels & pipes 

Is It Safe?

As long as the materials are in good condition there is no concern about exposure to the asbestos fibers within them.  Asbestos is potentially hazardous only when it is friable—meaning it can be easily crumbled.  Friable asbestos materials can become airborne and are therefore an inhalation hazard.  With that in mind, DO NOT demolish, pulverize, abrade, drill, scrape or otherwise disturb potentially asbestos containing materials.

SJSU has developed a comprehensive Asbestos Operations and Maintenance Plan to ensure that any asbestos containing building materials are properly maintained and won’t become airborne.     

If you notice building materials that have been damaged or are in crumbling condition please report it to EHS at 408-924-1969 or  EHS will do a hazard assessment and arrange for remediation, if necessary.