Many federal government agencies have passed asbestos regulations to protect the public from asbestos exposure. Asbestos regulations are necessary because asbestos fibers are extremely dangerous to human health when they are inhaled. Asbestos regulations restrict asbestos exposure, protecting the public from severe and fatal asbestos-caused diseases, including:
- mesothelioma (a cancer that affects the lung’s inner lining)
- asbestosis (lung tissue scarring)
- lung cancer
- esophageal, stomach, colon, or rectum cancer
Asbestos is a naturally occurring fibrous mineral that was thought to be an ideal material for construction and consumer products because asbestos fibers are strong, flexible, and virtually indestructible. Asbestos was extensively used by building contractors and product manufacturers until the 1980s when scientists revealed that exposure to asbestos can cause serious diseases.
Workplace Asbestos Regulations
The Occupational and Safety Health Administration (OSHA) established stringent asbestos exposure rules to protect laborers from workplace asbestos exposure. OSHA asbestos regulations limit the allowable amount of workplace asbestos exposure to 0.2 fibers per cubic centimeter averaged over an eight-hour workday. Additionally, workers’ exposure to asbestos cannot exceed one fiber per cubic centimeter in a 30-minute time frame.
OSHA asbestos regulations also require:
- employers to monitor workplace asbestos exposure
- protective equipment
- hygiene facilities
- health exams
In addition, the Mine Safety and Health Administration (MSHA) passed asbestos regulations to protect miners from workplace asbestos exposure. MSHA asbestos regulations limit asbestos exposure to 0.1 fiber per cubic centimeter averaged over an eight-hour day.
School Asbestos Regulations
In 1986, Congress passed the Asbestos Hazard Emergency Response Act (AHERA) to manage asbestos exposure in schools. AHERA requires school officials to inspect schools for dangerous asbestos levels every three years. School officials must also inspect asbestos containing materials every six months. Moreover, AHERA asbestos regulations require schools to notify parents and teachers about planned asbestos removal.
Building Demolition Asbestos Regulations
The EPA established the National Emission Standards for Hazardous Air Pollutants (NESHAP) to regulate asbestos exposure at demolition sites. NESHAP asbestos regulations require building owners and demolition operators to give the EPA and local authorities ten days notice before beginning demolition. These asbestos regulations also require owners and operators to remove all asbestos containing materials from buildings before they are demolished.
Information on Asbestos Regulations
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