The Environmental Protection Agency identifies asbestos as a hazardous material

On Behalf of | Dec 29, 2020 | asbestos

Asbestos causes cancer in some people, and that’s a fact that is widely accepted. Despite that, there are still times when asbestos is used in America. The Environmental Protection Agency has air toxics regulations that apply to people who will be working on a structure when asbestos may be present, which is something most people in America should become familiar with. Older housing, factories and other buildings may still contain asbestos, even if it isn’t necessarily used in buildings the same way today.

The goal of the EPA’s plan is to reduce public exposure to asbestos fibers, which are airborne contaminants that could cause mesothelioma, asbestosis and other serious diseases.

The EPA’s air toxics program

The EPA started the air toxics program decades ago, identifying asbestos as one of the first hazardous air pollutants to be regulated. It was added to the program on March 31, 1971.

The program does have strong asbestos control methods that people are expected to follow. The National Emission Standards for Hazardous Air Pollutants (NESHAP) requires that asbestos is controlled to minimize the release of asbestos fibers. For example, during a demolition, NESHAP rules will need to be followed. The rules state that:

  • At least one representative who has been trained in NESHAP compliance should be present
  • That person needs a refresher course every two years
  • The demolition must meet requirements such as the correct glove-bag procedures and adequate wetting

Here’s an example. If asbestos waste is going to be thrown away, the waste material must be wet down. Then, once wet, it will need to be placed into a leak-tight container and labeled properly. From there, it has to be disposed of in a landfill specifically designed for asbestos waste.

While general residential properties don’t usually fall under NESHAP regulations, it’s a good idea to get to know them if you’re running a demolition business. You may need to meet those requirements if you’re demolishing more than one home or participating in a public project.

Minimizing exposure to asbestos is the only way to prevent mesothelioma, lung cancer and asbestosis, among other conditions. These are some of the current requirements to help prevent injuries to those who may be around asbestos fibers.