A Look at Asbestos Laws and Regulations

Asbestos legislation in the U.S. has a long and complex history involving several different government agencies. This three-part blog series will explore the asbestos-related laws established through the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), asbestos-related regulation established through the EPA, and asbestos-related regulations established through other government agencies. In 1979, the first law was signed explicitly authorizing the EPA to act regarding asbestos. Called The Asbestos Hazard Emergency Response Act (AHERA), it is also known as the Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA) Title II. The law required the EPA to make regulations that require inspection of all school buildings for asbestos by "local education agencies" or educational institutions. If asbestos-containing material were found in any school buildings, the educational institutions were required to plan for its abatement or safe removal. The EPA also had to develop an accrediting system for screening properly trained asbestos abatement professionals. This accrediting system would be carried out by individual state governments. The TSCA defines asbestos as "the asbestiform varieties of: chrysotile (serpentine); crocidolite (riebeckite); amosite (cummingtonite/grunerite); anthophyllite; tremolite; and actinolite." The EPA’s second asbestos-related law was the Asbestos Information Act of 1988, or Public Law 100-577. This law was established to help the government keep track of who was making asbestos-containing products in the U.S. and the uses of those products. The law required manufacturers of asbestos-contacting materials to report their production to the EPA. Then in 1990 came the Asbestos School Hazard Abatement Reauthorization Act (ASHARA).  It was set up to provide funding for asbestos abatement loan and grant programs for schools. ASHARA also required the EPA to enhance the accreditation training programs for asbestos abatement. The EPA was also tasked with enforcing the Clean Air Act (CAA) and the Safe Drinking Water Act (SDWA), which entailed setting limits for pollutants including asbestos in both the air and the water supply. In the next part of this three-part blog series, asbestos-related regulation established through the EPA will be reviewed. References: The United States Environmental Protection Agency; The Asbestos Informer Previous: Medical Journal Criticizes Canadian Asbestos Exportation Next: Biomarkers Used To Diagnose And Treat Cancers Earlier