Asbestos has had a long and complicated relationship with construction in the US. Not only in its use in everything from fire-retardant blankets to vinyl flooring, but in how it’s regulated in the United States. These factors, combined with poor record keeping from homeowners, real estate, and home renovation contractors means that it’s always uncertain when buying an older home if there’s asbestos or not. In this blog, we’re going to look at the contributing factors to this problem.
Understanding the Oddities of US Asbestos Regulation
The rules regarding the regulation and banning of asbestos are varied and come from different sources, from the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) Asbestos NESHAP Standards to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration’s (OSHA) regulation of asbestos manufacturing and building renovation.
- National Emission Standards for Hazardous Air Pollutants (EPA): This federal law requires that asbestos is to be removed prior to renovation or demolition of builds. Most notably, individual residential buildings are exempt from mandatory inspection and removal.
- Asbestos Hazard Emergency Response Act (EPA): This requires that people who work on asbestos-containing buildings (such as construction workers, inspectors, planners, and project designers) to be accredited under an asbestos training program.
- OSHA Standards (OSHA): OSHA has standards for both the manufacture and use of asbestos products, which has limited the type of asbestos products made. The EPA supplemented this with their EPA Asbestos Worker Protection Rule.
- Asbestos Ban and Phaseout Rule (EPA): This was a phase-out and ban on most asbestos-containing products. However, it was overturned in 1991 (two years after it came into effect). Still, some of the products do remain banned.
- State and Local Laws: Some of the strongest laws are done on the state or local levels, including requirements for inspections on domestic buildings before renovation, and additional bans on the manufacture and sale of asbestos goods.
Home Buying and Renovation Dangers
As you can see, the above regulations leave quite a bit of leeway and confusion for home buyers and sellers. And asbestos is particularly dangerous because of its widespread use through the home and its appliances. As such, it’s vital that as part of a home buying process or before a renovation to have the home inspected for asbestos, either by an asbestos specialist or a contractor/home inspector with asbestos training.
Need help finding or abating asbestos? Then it’s time to talk to Fiber Control, Inc. We’re specialists that are fully licensed in both Massachusetts and New Hampshire, and we’re here to help. Contact us today for a consultation on your property and problem.