EPA’s Asbestos Guidelines Pose Serious Threat to Public Health

Asbestos Guidelines

The EPA inspector general says that current methods of preventing asbestos release during demolition are inadequate.

The Agency released a report on Tuesday headlined “EPA Should Update Guidance to Address the Release of Potentially Harmful Quantities of Asbestos That Can Occur Under EPA’s Asbestos Demolition Standard.” It says bluntly that the agency’s guidelines for demolishing crumbling old buildings are woefully out of date and need to be revamped to protect public health and safety.

The EPA’s Alternative Asbestos Control Method (AACM), established in 1973 as part of the National Emission Standards for Hazardous Air Pollutants (NESHAP), allows demolition without removal of asbestos, requiring only that the asbestos-containing materials were well-soaked to prevent the fibers from becoming airborne during the demolition process. That, of course, creates runoff.

The report made a number of recommendations including an evaluation of the potential health risk of asbestos fibers in untreated wastewater from demolitions; issuing a technical report available to the public; implementing timely actions based on the report and conducting regulatory reviews; and communicating with other EPA offices to discuss and share information.

Despite the disagreement about the testing process, the report clearly points to the need for stronger action on protecting workers and the public from the dangers of asbestos in the environment.