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What Is Asbestos?

Encompassing a group of six minerals, asbestos is highly carcinogenic (cancer-causing), and exposure has led to scores of mesothelioma diagnoses and years of clinical treatment. It can be found in rock and mineral deposits around the world and is divided into two categories: serpentine and amphibole. Chrysotile, otherwise known as “white asbestos” is serpentine and the most widely mined and utilized in the United States. Thus, asbestos removal remains a common factor in commercial and residential renovations.

Because asbestos is fire-resistant, durable, and cost-efficient, it was a staple in the mining, building, construction, and military industries, and could be found in many capacities in their structures – especially the structures built before the 1970s. Today, men and women who have been diagnosed with mesothelioma could be eligible for compensation to help with the costs of their medical bills or loss of income.

Amy C. has over twenty years combined experience in both the medical and legal field. She understands what asbestos’ cases mean on an emotional level and she has the skill set to help her clients navigate the legalities in a timely manner.

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Banning the Mineral

Asbestos is a dangerous air pollutant and can be hazardous to workers, residents, and anyone around the fibrous mineral if its fibers are disturbed. For instance, in renovation or demolition projects, asbestos fibers can be released into the air where they’ll either be ingested or inhaled by those in the area. After it was discovered that asbestos could lead to a mesothelioma diagnosis, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), and the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) have been taking steps towards enforcing public health and minimizing chances for dangerous exposure by banning asbestos.

1970 – Asbestos was recognized as a dangerous contaminant. The Clean Air Act (CAA) was passed to ban asbestos use for insulation and spray-applied surfacing of asbestos materials with over 1 percent contamination.

1976 – Not long after that, the Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA) banned the production, import, processing, and distribution of commercial and corrugated paper, flooring felt, roll board, and specialty paper.

1980 – Beginning after August 25, 1989, all new commercial uses of asbestos were outlawed.

2018 – The most recent step towards banning asbestos, in 2018, the EPA passed the NESHAP or National Emission Standards for Hazardous Air Pollutants. This set of regulations further regulates the demolition and renovation of asbestos-containing structures.

Asbestos Abatement

Since asbestos is hazardous and was used in many different capacities, systems have been put in place to remove the poisonous mineral from as many structures as possible. Unfortunately, since the removal of asbestos causes it to be disturbed and expelled into the air, there are many regulations in place that those involved in asbestos abatement (removal) services must follow.

 

Regulations on Asbestos Removal

NESHAP – Developed by the EPA under the Clean Air Act, the NESHAP is the most recent and updated set of rules on proper asbestos removal in the U.S. It was designed to focus on significant environmental risks and noncompliance patterns and is the nation’s stationary source standard for hazardous air pollutants (HAPs). HAPs encompass all contaminants that are known or suspected to cause cancer or other significant health effects.

Some major points for the NESHAP include regulations meant to minimize the release of asbestos fibers in the air during any handling processes. Firstly, this encompasses the requirement for all asbestos-containing material to be adequately removed from the structure before any demolition or renovation can begin. Next, the person or organization in charge of removing the carcinogen must be appropriately certified. Proper notification must be submitted to the EPA before any of the demolition or renovation work can even begin.

Were you or a loved one exposed to asbestos on the job? Determine your risk for asbestos-related disease and your options for treatment.

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Penalties for Breaking the Laws

There are different penalties for the various regulations that can be broken. The owner or parties in charge of the structure are usually the ones held accountable. Here are some descriptions of the criminal provisions from the Clean Air Act (CAA) that apply to asbestos:

Offense:

Violation of National Emission Standard for Hazardous Air Pollutants (NESHAP)

Elements:

A) Owner or operator of a stationary source knowingly builds or modifies a new or existing structure/ emits a hazardous pollutant/ or fails to comply with design, equipment, work practice, or operational standard in violation of an applicable NESHAP

B) Fails or causes another individual or employee to fail to comply with any of the work practice regulations

Penalty:

– 5 years and/or fines
– Penalties doubled if second or subsequent conviction

Offense:

False Statements in CAA Documents

Elements:

A person knowingly makes a false material statement, representation, or certification in/omits material information from/alters, conceals or fails to file or maintain a document filed or required to be maintained under the CAA

Penalty:

– 2 years and/or fines
– Penalties doubled if second or subsequent conviction

Offense:

Tampering with Monitor Device or Method

Elements:
A person knowingly falsifies/tampers/renders inaccurate/fails to install a monitoring device or method required by CAA

Penalty:
– 2 years and/or fines
– Penalties doubled if second or subsequent conviction

Offense:

Knowing Failure to Notify or Report

Elements:
A person knowingly fails to notify or report as required by CAA

Penalty:
– 2 years and/or fines
– Penalties doubled if second or subsequent conviction

Offense:

Knowing/Negligent Endangerment

Elements:
A person negligently/knowingly releases any hazardous air pollutant listed in the CAA or any extremely hazardous substances into the ambient air to where at the time of release, negligently/ knowingly put another person in danger, death, or serious bodily injury

Penalty:
– Knowing: 15 years and/or fines
– Negligent: 1 year and/or fines

Offense:

Violation of State Implementation Plan (SIP)

Elements:
A person knowingly violates requirements of an applicable SIP during a period of federally assumed enforcement, or more than 30 days after notification by the Administrator.

Penalty:
– 5 years and/or fines
– Penalties doubled if second or subsequent conviction

Offense:

Violation of New Source Performance Standard

Elements:
Owner or operator of a “new” stationary source knowingly operates the new source in violation of an applicable category source performance standard

Penalty:
– 5 years and/or fines
– Penalties doubled if second or subsequent conviction

For a full list of criminal provisions of the Clean Air Act, you can visit the EPA website.

Legal Compensation

Workers exposed to asbestos on the job could be entitled to compensation if the exposure occurred at the worksite. Employers are responsible for properly removing all HAPs from in and around the occupational structure before allowing people to work there. If not, those responsible can assess severe penalties.

Next Steps

Worried that your structure may contain asbestos? The National Voluntary Laboratory Accreditation Program (NVLAP) can provide testing services to determine the presence of the mineral. This way, you can decide if you even need asbestos removal services.

If you are an owner or contractor at a structure that needs asbestos removed, you can call asbestos abatement services in your area to come and remove the pollutant for you. They have the experience, are certified, and can ensure that you fulfill your legal responsibilities under the Clean Air Act. You can find asbestos abatement services by simply searching for “asbestos removal services in my area.” Just enter your zip code to pull up dozens of qualified companies.

If you are an individual who would like to become an asbestos professional, the EPA provides helpful resources for becoming a trained and accredited asbestos professional in your location.

Mesothelioma is a life-altering diagnosis. Request your free Mesothelioma Guide and take all the information we have to offer, where ever you go.

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