Respiratory Hazards

Protecting faculty, staff, and students from occupational diseases caused by breathing air contaminated with harmful dusts, fumes, sprays, mists, fogs, smokes, vapors, gases, or radioactive material is best achieved by preventing atmospheric contamination through the use of engineering controls, e.g., enclosure or confinement of the operation, general and local exhaust ventilation, and substitution of less toxic alternatives.

The University of Michigan (U-M) has developed several programs to specifically address airborne hazards that are commonly encountered on campus.  The respiratory management programs detail how U-M addresses controls of exposures to contractors, workers as well as protection of the U-M community and our environment.


Lead may be a component of building materials in many campus buildings.  Therefore, before any construction, renovation, or lead abatement work activities begin, all affected materials suspected of containing lead require planning for safe handling.  Materials likely to contain lead include:

  • Latex and oil-based paints; especially paints manufactured before 1978
  • Radiation shielding materials
  • Plumbing joints
  • Solder
  • Pipe wrap
  • Materials used as soundproofing

The following construction and renovation activities involving materials containing lead may result in lead exposure:

  • Sanding
  • Scraping
  • Cutting
  • Grinding
  • Welding
  • Demolition
  • Drilling
  • Sandblasting lead-based paint or other lead-based surface coating

In accordance with the Lead Management Program guideline, employees who may disturb lead-containing material during construction and renovation activities must:

  • Receive training
  • Practice safe work procedures in accordance with their training
  • Use the proper equipment, controls, and personal protective equipment
  • Receive medical surveillance

EHS at (734) 647-1142:

  • For questions or concerns regarding LBP or other lead-based surface coatings
  • During the design phase of projects that may involve the disturbance of suspect lead-containing material

Standard Operating Procedures, Guidelines, and Manuals


The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) recommends that building owners develop a pro-active in-place management program rather than requiring removal of all asbestos materials. This strategy involves:

  • Identifying asbestos containing materials (ACM)
  • Maintaining those materials in good condition
  • Removing ACM as needed during maintenance or renovation activities

The U-M proactively manages asbestos containing materials (ACM) in place following the Asbestos Management Program Guideline.  The purpose of the program is to reduce or eliminate the risk of employee exposure to ACM.

Asbestos Building Surveys for Project Management and Maintenance

The Asbestos Building Surveys for Project Management and Maintenance contains survey information for architects, engineers, construction managers, and building facilities personnel for project planning and maintenance purposes.  It is password protected.

Related Information

For further information on the hazards of asbestos and ACM, check out the EPA document Asbestos, or feel free to contact EHS at (734) 647-1142.

Roof-Top Safety

Many buildings on the U-M campus have fume hoods or other sources that exhaust potentially hazardous materials through rooftop ventilation systems that could impact employees and contractors working on those building roofs.

  • For technical assistance, please contact the EHS department at (734) 763-6973.
  • For specific information on the roof safety plans and access to drawings, contact the Engineering Fume Hood Roof Safety Access coordinator at (734) 647-5019.

Standard Operating Procedures, Guidelines, and Manuals

Roof Access for Buildings with Potential Roof Top Hazards

Hazardous Exhaust Systems

U-M employees and contractors repair and maintain local (potentially hazardous) exhaust systems in our facilities, including:

  • Chemical fume hoods
  • Snorkels
  • Canopy hoods
  • Slot hoods
  • Flammable storage cabinet exhaust systems
  • Tabletop fume extractors
  • Biological safety cabinets
  • General exhaust systems for isolation rooms

Work on these systems may include repairs to duct work, changing exhaust fans, or changing exhaust filters; ranging from routine repairs up through full demolition activities.  All of these activities require access to the potentially hazardous exhaust system’s interior surfaces.  Most of the hazardous exhaust system interior surfaces contain nuisance dust, dirt, and debris from years of accumulation.  However, the interior surfaces in a small number of hazardous exhaust systems may contain contaminants along with nuisance dust.  Therefore, all inside surfaces should be considered contaminated and personal protective equipment should be worn to prevent exposures.

Standard Operating Procedures, Guidelines, and Manuals

Servicing Potentially Hazardous Exhaust Systems

For More Information

For assistance, guidance, or information on referenced guidelines, regulations, and other documents, contact EHS at (734) 763-6973. For specific information on the roof safety plans and access to drawings, contact the Engineering Fume Hood Roof Safety Access coordinator at (734) 647-5019.

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