Safe Asbestos Abatement Prevemts Future Mesothelioma

By Sally Clapper

Asbestos is a very durable, extremely insulating and fire resistant fibrous mineral found in many construction products manufactured and used in the past. The fact that asbestos causes cancer and life threatening ailments was not established until many years later. This discovery came after people who worked with or around asbestos began developing serious illnesses, such as mesothelioma. An aggressive and fatal cancer, mesothelioma is caused when asbestos is inhaled or ingested and becomes lodged in the lining of the chest, lung or abdominal cavities. Mesothelioma is primarily linked with exposure to asbestos.

Local, state and federal laws were established in regards to management, repair and removal of asbestos after the dangers of exposure became irrefutable. If the presence of asbestos is established at any construction or home site in the United States, regulations from the following agencies must be followed:

* Environmental Protection Agency: created the Clean Air Act (CAA), Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA), Asbestos Hazard Emergency Response Act (AHERA) and Asbestos School Hazard Abatement Reauthorization Act (ASHARA).

* Occupational Safety and Health Administration: establishes regulations covering asbestos exposure in construction and general industry.

* FDA: Food and Drug Administration.

* Mine Safety and Health Administration: asbestos safety regulations regarding exposure limits and procedures in line with current OSHA standards.

* Consumer Product Safety Commission: commission designed to regulate asbestos in consumer products in order to protect consumer safety.

Local and state agencies have established their own regulations in addition to federal guidelines. Laws were established at all levels to prevent exposure to asbestos and risk of developing asbestos related diseases. Slight differences in asbestos legislation exists between the states, however all require that removal and disposal of asbestos be conducted by accredited, trained abatement professionals. Before any construction, renovation or demolition can begin, asbestos inspections are required.

There are three different possibilities if asbestos is discovered during initial inspections: leave it alone, repair it, or remove it.

Asbestos, if in good condition and not airborne, does not pose a health hazard. If intact and sealed, experts recommend leaving it alone. On the other hand, repair or removal will be necessary if asbestos containing materials are found in deteriorated condition.

Asbestos is more likely to be disturbed or damaged and become airborne in some way during repairs, renovations or demolition. Check with local, state and federal guidelines to see what regulations must be followed to ensure safety. During construction, some form of repair or removal of asbestos containing materials is often needed. Sealing or covering up damaged materials are recommended repair methods. In the case of removal, a licensed expert who has been trained in the removal and disposal of asbestos will be needed.

In some situations, a plumbing, flooring or roofing contractor may be trained in asbestos removal and meet the requirements to perform abatement activities. Following any and all regulations regarding the proper and safe removal and disposal of asbestos will prevent anyone from facing serious criminal charges or fines. More importantly, any chance of exposure to asbestos and developing mesothelioma will be avoided and the health and safety of all will be protected. - 30540

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