US EPA to Update its Asbestos Standard

Chemical Watch

Washington, DC – The US EPA has agreed to update its Asbestos National Emission Standards for Hazardous Air Pollutants (NESHAP) in response to a recommendation by its Office of Inspector General (OIG).

Since 1973, under the NESHAP Regulation, the EPA has allowed buildings that are structurally unsound and in imminent danger of collapse to be demolished, without first removing regulated asbestos-containing materials, the OIG said in a report.

The agency’s alternative asbestos control method experiments show that this can result in the release of significant amounts of asbestos into runoff wastewater. The experiments also demonstrate that the amount of released asbestos “often exceeds the legally reportable quantity” of one pound in a 24-hour period, the OIG said, and recommended that the EPA should update its guidance to address such potentially harmful releases and assess the potential public health risk posed by them.

In response, the agency agreed that its guidance in the area was “dated and disparate” and said it would put together a team of asbestos experts to advise it in producing an “updated consolidated guidance document, which has practical application to the regulated community.”