Well, if you have clicked on this blog, chances are you already know about asbestos, how deadly it is, and why it was banned. For the first timers; asbestos is a naturally occurring mineral that was once used in construction of walls, roofs, electrical appliances because of its outstanding properties such as fire-resistant, chemical-resistant, heat-resistant, electricity-resistant, anti-corrosive, wear and tear proof, high-tensile strength, flexibility, and adsorption. A naturally occurring mineral with these many great properties would naturally be the ideal choice for construction in houses, buildings and electronics. However, asbestos exhales thin, needle-like fibers into the air that are carcinogenic in nature. A carcinogen is a substance that causes cancer in living beings. In this case it's mesothelioma. It is a type of lung cancer caused by prolonged exposure to asbestos fibers. Being around asbestos for a very long time also causes inflammation, and scarring in the lungs.
The cancer causing ability of asbestos was responsible for its ban. Many rules and regulations were put in place to control further use of asbestos. Through these rules and laws people were made aware of the potential fatal dangers of the material present in their homes.
Let’s take a look at some rules, regulations, and laws about asbestos use.
Asbestos Related Laws By EPA (United States Environmental Protection Agency)
1) The Asbestos Hazard Emergency Response Act (AHERA) (Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA) Title II)
AHERA mandated the EPA to create regulations, including the Asbestos-Containing Materials in Schools Rule, requiring schools to inspect for asbestos, develop management plans, and implement response actions to minimize hazards. The law also tasked the EPA with creating a model plan for accrediting individuals conducting asbestos inspections at schools. Asbestos types include chrysotile, crocidolite, amosite, anthophyllite, tremolite, and actinolite, as defined by the Toxic Substances Control Act.
2) Asbestos Information Act (Public Law 100-577)
This legislation aimed to enhance transparency and accountability by compelling manufacturers to report their production of specific asbestos-containing products to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).
3) Asbestos School Hazard Abatement Reauthorization Act (ASHARA)
ASHARA, through this law, not only extended funding for the asbestos abatement loan and grant program for schools but also mandated the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to enhance training standards. This included increasing the training hours required for various disciplines under the Asbestos Model Accreditation Plan (MAP) and expanding accreditation requirements to encompass asbestos abatement projects not only in schools but also in all public and commercial buildings.
EPA Asbestos Regulations
1) Restrictions on Discontinued Uses of Asbestos Rule
This updated regulation empowers the Agency to conduct rigorous evaluations of a comprehensive range of asbestos products that have been taken off the market, ensuring they meet stringent safety standards before potentially reentering the U.S. market. Entities falling under the purview of this rule must notify the EPA at least 90 days before engaging in any manufacturing, importing, or processing of asbestos or asbestos-containing products governed by the rule. These uses are strictly prohibited until the EPA conducts a thorough review of the notification and implements any essential restrictions or outright bans on their usage.
2) Asbestos-Containing Materials in Schools Rule
Under the Asbestos Hazard Emergency Response Act (AHERA), the Asbestos-Containing Materials in Schools rule mandates that local education agencies, including public school districts, non-profit private schools, charter schools, and schools affiliated with religious institutions, conduct inspections of their school buildings to identify asbestos-containing building materials. Subsequently, they are required to develop comprehensive asbestos management plans and take necessary asbestos response actions to minimize or eliminate asbestos hazards, ensuring a safe environment for students and staff. The rule's provisions are applicable to all these local education agencies, holding them accountable for adhering to the stipulated requirements.
3) EPA Asbestos Worker Protection Rule
The EPA, leveraging its authority under Section 6 of the Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA), expanded worker protection mandates to include state and local government employees engaged in asbestos-related activities. This extension was aimed at encompassing workers who were not previously covered by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration's (OSHA) asbestos regulations.
4) Asbestos Ban and Phase Out Rule (Remanded)
On July 12, 1989, the EPA issued a final rule that aimed to ban most asbestos-containing products. However, in 1991, the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals overturned this regulation, leading to the reinstatement of only a limited ban on a few asbestos-containing products.
5) Asbestos National Emission Standards for Hazardous Air Pollutants (NESHAP)
The asbestos NESHAP regulations outline strict work practices to be adhered to during demolitions and renovations of all structures, installations, and buildings, with the exception of residential buildings containing four or fewer dwelling units. These regulations mandate that the building owner or operator must notify the appropriate state agency before undertaking any demolition or renovations of buildings that might contain a specific threshold amount of asbestos or asbestos-containing material. Additionally, certain manufacturing and fabricating operations are either prohibited from emitting visible emissions into the outside air or are required to follow air cleaning procedures. Moreover, specific requirements govern the proper removal and disposal of asbestos-containing waste.
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