How is Asbestos Exposure Regulated?
Do I have laws that protect me?
Yes. Asbestos exposure and its relation to mesothelioma had long been neglected and corporate houses continued to exploit workers for years. The state then decided to take matters in its hand. The first asbestos lawsuit was filed in 1929 and since then the laws have been improved to protect workers' interests. Thousands of asbestos lawsuits have been filed, many workers have benefited from the court judgments and corporate houses have been forced to make sure that their workers are not exposed to asbestos.
Do the laws specify the places at which I can be exposed?
Yes again. There are specific safeguards to make sure that you are not exposed to asbestos anywhere.
Asbestos at Home-
It is possible that houses built or renovated before the 1970's may contain asbestos. There is little reason to worry about the exposure to asbestos at home since we have seen that a majority of mesothelioma patients have had exposure at work. It is, however, advisable that all levels of exposure to the deadly material should be avoided. Asbestos is dangerous only when it is friable, that is, when it releases particles in the air. So if the asbestos containing materials are at a place where they are not likely to be disturbed, it may not be necessary to remove them. EPA recommends that of you call a certified professional for advice if you suspect the presence of asbestos in your house. It is also advised that you ask the individual to furnish the proof of his completion of federal and state approved training. The presence of asbestos cannot be confirmed before it has been tested in laboratory or already labeled. It is, therefore, best to leave the product undisturbed unless it has been tested. The EPA advises that you use separate firms for assessment and removal services to avoid any conflict of interests. If you are planning to sell a house that may contain/ contains asbestos products, it is advised that you contact a local attorney or real estate agent concerning your obligation to the extent of disclosure.
If you live in a rented apartment, you fall under the category of ‘general industry' in the OSHA regulations. The landlord is obliged to disclose the presence the asbestos if it has already been confirmed through testing. If friable asbestos does exist in your rented apartment, it would be considered a breach of OSHA regulations and you would be entitled to legal remedy.
Asbestos in Schools -
In 1986, Congress passed the Asbestos Hazard Emergency Response Act (AHERA) to protect public and private school children and school employees from asbestos exposure. AHERA, although acknowledging the fact that asbestos when intact does not cause any damage, makes provisions for managing and monitoring the condition of asbestos materials and tries to facilitate communication between different parties. All the schools in the United States of America are supposed to comply with the AHERA regulations.
What are the provisions of the AHERA?
The provisions of AHERA are as follows-
Each school must designate and train a person to oversee asbestos-related activities in the school who can be a consultant or a school employee.
All buildings must be inspected for the presence of asbestos-containing materials.
A management plan for controlling asbestos exposure must be developed, using accredited inspection personnel to implement the plan.
All records should be available for public review. All teachers, parents and employees should be informed annually about the asbestos-related activities in the school.
Who can I contact?
EPA (Environment Protection Agency) Asbestos Ombudsman- (800) 368 5888
Laboratory Accreditation Administration
The National Institute for Standards and Technology (NIST)
Gaithersburg, MD 20899
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