Asbestos is a mineral fiber that occurs naturally in several forms (including vermiculite). Thanks to its strong fiber and heat resistant qualities, asbestos has been used for hundreds of years, more recently in everything from insulation to roof shingles to packaging, gaskets, and coatings. Unfortunately, asbestos is now known to cause lung cancer, mesothelioma, and asbestosis (noncancerous lung disease).
Asbestos is at its worst when it becomes airborne, sometimes called friable asbestos*, such as when it is removed from products, equipment, or buildings in a way that allows it to separate into tiny fibers. Asbestos fibers are too small to see with the naked eye but when inhaled, can cause lung scaring that leads to disease, loss of lung function, and even death. As a result, both the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) and the EPA have determined that there is no safe level of exposure for any type of asbestos fiber and have passed laws and regulations to protect workers as well as the public from asbestos contamination.
Learn the key laws and regulations addressing asbestos containing material (ACM) in the workplace, both general industry and construction and much more during our in-depth webinar on April 9, 2014.
The laws and regulations now in place evolved over time, which explains in part why there are so many. It is important to note, however, that one of the first laws, the 1989 Asbestos Ban and Phaseout Rule was overturned in 1991 so only a few products containing asbestos remain banned in the United States. Those that now apply to asbestos management, removal, and disposal are as follows.
The Asbestos Hazard Emergency Response Act (AHERA) promulgated under the Title II of the Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA), which required the EPA to develop regulations that:
- Required local educational agencies to inspect their school buildings for asbestos-containing building material, prepare asbestos management plans, and perform asbestos response actions to prevent or reduce asbestos hazards, the result of which was the Asbestos-Containing Materials in Schools Rule (40CFR Part 73, Subpart E); and
- Developed a model plan for states to use for accrediting workers conducting asbestos inspection and corrective-action activities at schools. The result was the Asbestos Model Accreditation Plan (MAP).
The Asbestos-Containing Materials in Schools Rule consists of multiple requirements for different activities associated with asbestos- abatement in educational facilities (including public, private, charter, and religious schools), all of which are covered in appendices to Subpart E, including:
- Interim Transmission Electron Microscopy (TEM) analytical methods,
- Interim method of the determination of asbestos in bulk insulation samples,
- The MAP, and
- Transport and disposal of asbestos waste.
Join us on April 9 for an in-depth webinar where our expert, a seasoned EHS professional who has helped other companies proactively address asbestos concerns, will provide participants with a proven, practical strategy to develop and implement a compliant and liability avoiding asbestos operations and maintenance program.
The Asbestos School Hazard Abatement Reauthorization Act (ASHARA) of 1990:
- Provided an extension of funding for the asbestos abatement grant and loan program for schools,
- Required the EPA to increase the number of training hours required for the different types of training under the MAP (promulgated in February 1994), and
- Expanded the accreditation requirements for schools to include all asbestos abatement activities in all public and commercial buildings.
The Asbestos Worker Protection Rule, promulgated under Section 6 of TSCA, expanded asbestos protection for state and local government employees working in asbestos activities but who were not covered under OSHA asbestos regulations.
Tomorrow we will review the remaining EPA regulations that cover asbestos—Clean Air Act’s (CAA) National Emissions Standards for Hazardous Air Pollutants (NESHAP) and the Safe Drinking Water Act.
*Friable Asbestos— Any material containing more than one percent asbestos and that can be crumbled or reduced to powder by hand pressure. (May include previouslynonfriable… material, which becomes broken or damaged by mechanical force.)