The Regulation You Need to Know About Sooner than Later

Asbestos is a commercial name, not a mineralogical definition. Made up of six naturally occurring fibrous minerals, asbestos is most often used commercially for its high tensile strength, flexibility, resistance to chemical and thermal degradation, and electrical resistance. These minerals have been used for decades in thousands of commercial products, such as insulation and fireproofing materials, automotive brakes and textile products, and cement and wallboard materials.

When handled, asbestos can separate into toxic microscopic-size particles that remain in the air and are easily inhaled. Although the use of asbestos and asbestos products has dramatically decreased in recent years, they are still found in many residential and commercial settings and continue to pose a health risk to workers and others.

Pre Demolition and Renovation Need-to-Knows

The U. S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), Federal OSHA and most State programs have more recently began to enforce processes relating to testing for possible asbestos containing materials (PACM's) pre demolition or renovation. In fact, most states are now requiring Asbestos Containing Materials (ACM's) surveys prior to the issuance of demolition and renovation permits. Previously, the asbestos regulation required that only buildings built prior to 1990 be tested for ACM containing materials. Under the revised regulation however, ALL buildings must now be tested prior to demolitions and renovations regardless of the “built by” date.

According to the Clean Air Act (CAA), the EPA is required “to develop and enforce regulations to protect the general public from exposure to airborne contaminants that are known to be hazardous to human health.” In accordance with Section 112 of the CAA, the EPA established the National Emissions Standards for Hazardous Air Pollutants (NESHAPS) which outlines the specific asbestos work practices that must be followed during demolitions and renovations of all structures, installations, and buildings (excluding residential buildings that have four or fewer dwelling units). Any demolition or renovation operation at an institutional, commercial or industrial building is now regulated by the Asbestos NESHAP and at minimum, the thorough inspection requirement applies.

What about Emergency Situations?

In reference to emergency response situations, the EPA does recognize that performance testing may not always be possible. The EPA defines an emergency renovation operation as “a renovation operation that was not planned but results from a sudden, unexpected event that, if not immediately attended to presents a safety or public health hazard, is necessary to protect equipment from damage, or is necessary to avoid imposing an unreasonable financial burden. This term includes operations necessitated by non-routine failures of equipment.” Each individual renovation and demolition company responding to an emergency event is accountable for determining the allowable response time needed to address an emergency without performing testing. For all other non-emergency situations, performance testing would be required to perform work.

Most Common ACM's

Included below is a list composed by the EPA of the most common Asbestos Containing Materials (ACM's). Note – this list is not all-inclusive as it does not include every product/material that may contain asbestos. It is intended as a general guide to show which types of materials may contain asbestos.

Because many buildings and building materials can contain asbestos, renovation and repair activities should not be taken lightly. Federal and State agencies are now utilizing and enforcing asbestos regulation more frequently than ever before, so be sure to follow the protocol responsibly and as safely as possible. Not only will this protect your business and property, but it will also help protect the safety and health of everyone involved.

About the Author: John Hogan
John is Direct of Safety at Interstate. With over 15 years' experience managing corporate safety programs, he specializes in developing industry leading safety processes and procedures to ensure the safety of employees, clients and the public on jobsites. John holds numerous professional certifications including OSHA 500 & 501 and Safety Management from the American Society of Safety Engineers.