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Asbestos and Permitting/Air Quality For Public Health and Safety

Asbestos_Hazmat_signMesothelioma commercials abound on television reminding watchers of the dangers of asbestos to public heath and safety.

 

But the mineral fiber, asbestos, is also known for its desirable physical powers of tensile strength; sound absorption; resistance to fire, heat, electrical and chemical damage; and affordability.

 

When it comes to asbestos-containing material (ACM), business owners are governed by a combination of federal, state and local regulations influencing the way they deal with ACM in their facilities.

 

Since these regulations, especially those on the state and local level, change frequently, building and business owners need to stay current either by taking the time themselves or hiring an asbestos consulting firm like Talon/LPE.

 

Is the asbestos-containing material in good condition?

Construction materials containing asbestos have been used extensively in residential, commercial, industrial and public buildings. The concern about exposure to asbestos in these buildings is based on evidence linking various respiratory diseased with occupational exposure in shipbuilding, mining, milling and fabricating industries.

 

The presence of asbestos in a building does not mean that the health of the building occupants is endangered. If the ACM remains in good condition and is not disturbed, exposure will be slight. However if the ACM is damaged or disturbed, perhaps by maintenance or repairs conducted without proper controls, asbestos fibers are released affecting the air quality.

 

These fibers if damaged can create the danger of disease. When inhaled, they can cause fatal illnesses, including:

  • malignant lung cancer
  • mesothelioma
  • asbestosis

The number of people diagnosed with mesothelioma every year is between 2,000 and 3,000. The true extent of the problem is unknown because millions of people have had exposure to asbestos for decades. And the symptoms of mesothelioma may not show up for 50 years or more after exposure.

 

Should businesses conduct periodic surveys for safety?

Business owners need to conduct periodic surveys to assess the condition of the ACM and the air quality of the environment either themselves or by using the assistance of an asbestos consulting firm. By following governmental regulations as guides, owners can be assured that they are protecting the public health and safety of the occupants as well as the general public.

 

EPA and OSHA air quality standards and regulations aim to reduce environmental asbestos exposure and protect workers from asbestos exposure.

 

Are there mandatory surveys and monitoring for renovations?

According to EPA 40 CFR, §61.145 a mandatory asbestos survey [internal link] is required before any renovation or dismantling of a home, public building, a commercial building or a facility.

 

This survey must be performed by a licensed asbestos inspector for a home or an accredited inspector if the facility is a public or commercial building as defined in the Asbestos School Hazard Abatement Reauthorization Act, 1990.


Third-party area monitoring and project clearance monitoring for airborne concentrations of asbestos fibers during an abatement project shall be performed by a person under contract to the building owner to collect samples by and for the owner of the public building or facility being abated.

 

Such persons must not be employed or subcontracted by the contractor hired to conduct the asbestos abatement project. An example of a state governing board rule is Texas Civil Statutes Article 4477-3a §295.37(a).

 

Because of the severity of the threats posed by asbestos, business owners and manufacturers need to keep abreast of any new developments in safety legislation. They also need to be sure that they comply with the permits of the various government bodies. One way to stay safe is to stay current either by taking the time themselves or hiring an asbestos consulting firm like Talon/LPE.

 

If you need Environmental Consulting, Environmental Drilling, Air Permitting, Spill Management, Oilfield Construction, Environmental Engineering, Safety Training or General Contracting services, contact us at Talon/LPE. We work throughout Texas, Oklahoma, Colorado, and New Mexico. We also offer safety and training classes.

 

Image courtesy of Stuart Miles at FreeDigitalPhotos.net 

 

Topics: Environmental Health & Safety, Asbestos, Construction Services