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EPA Announces Rule Requiring Schools to Test for Asbestos
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency today announced a rule requiring all public and private elementary and secondary schools in the U.S. to identify any friable asbestos-containing materials used in their buildings.
"This rule demonstrates EPA's commitment to take action in order to achieve positive health and environmental benefits," said Dr. John A. Todhunter, Assistant Administrator for Pesticides and Toxic Substances.
In the past Administration, these rules were only voluntary. This new rule will make it mandatory for school officials to maintain records of their findings, notify employees of the location of the friable materials which contain asbestos, provide the employees with instructions on reducing exposures to asbestos, and notify parents or the school's parent-teacher association if friable asbestos is found.
School districts are encouraged to consult with EPA Regional Asbestos Coordinators when complying with the rule and, where asbestos-containing materials are found, to consult with EPA regarding corrective actions.
This rule will become effective 30 days following its publication in the Federal Register, which is expected to occur in the next few days. Local education agencies must comply with all provisions of this rule within 12 months of this effective date.
Asbestos is a known human carcinogen. Asbestos-containing materials have been used widely for fireproofing, thermal and acoustical insulation, and decoration in building construction and renovation.
The potential for release of asbestos fibers from asbestos-containing materials depends in part upon the characteristics of the material which contains the asbestos fibers. This regulation addressed friable materials, which are defined as all materials that when dry, may be crumbled, pulverized, or reduced to powder by hand pressure.
EPA has operated a Technical Assistance Program (TAP) since 1979 to help school districts identify and correct potential hazards due to asbestos in schools. This program will continue.
Local education agencies which desire assistance in determining an appropriate course of action for particular materials should contact the Asbestos Coordinator in their EPA region. EPA also operates a toll-free, technical assistance number especially for school districts and laboratories which need up-to-date information on analysis procedures.