Wait, Wasn’t Asbestos Banned Already?

Wait, Wasn’t Asbestos Banned Already?

This week, April 1 through April 7, is Asbestos Awareness Week, which is dedicated to raising awareness on the dangers of asbestos and preventing asbestos-related diseases.  This is a good time to talk about asbestos, what it is, what are the hazards, and what you can do about it.

Asbestos is a group of naturally occurring fibrous minerals. There are six types of asbestos recognized by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) and United States Environmental Protection Agency (US EPA): chrysotile, amosite, crocidolite, tremolite, anthophyllite, and actinolite.  Chrysotile is the most common in building materials.  Asbestos is heat and corrosion resistant, making it an ideal component for use in products like insulation, vehicle brakes, and a multitude of building materials.  It was used in so many different building materials, that during an inspection, the only things an inspector can safely assume will not have asbestos are wood, metal, or glass.  Everything else could contain asbestos. Unfortunately, there are significant health hazards associated with exposure to asbestos.  As is the case for many chemical hazards, this only became apparent after it was widely utilized.  Asbestos fibers are very strong and resistant to breakdown.  When inhaled, the fibers can travel deep into the lungs and the human body cannot break down the fibers.  Asbestosis, a chronic lung disease, can result from accumulated scarring of the lung tissue.  Exposure to asbestos has also been linked to lung cancer, mesothelioma (a cancer of the lung and abdominal lining), and laryngeal cancer, and more.  In the United States, asbestos is linked to more than 40,000 deaths annually.  Many of the diseases associated with asbestos do not appear until years after the initial asbestos exposure.

On March 18, 2024, the US EPA announced a final rule prohibiting ongoing uses of chrysotile asbestos, which is the only form currently imported into the US.  This rule bans the import of chrysotile with varying transition periods for rule implementation for different industries.  The chlor-alkali industry, which used asbestos to produce chlorine used in drinking and waste water treatment, has 5 years to transition to an alternative.  Most sheet gaskets containing asbestos are effectively banned after 2 years.  The ban on asbestos for oilfield brake blocks, aftermarket brakes, and gaskets takes effect in 6 months. 

The passing of this rule is significant; it is the first rule passed under the 2016 amendments to the Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA). 

You might think, wait, wasn’t asbestos banned already? Yes, a ban was passed in 1989, but it was then largely overturned in 1991 before full implementation.  The court ruling that overturned the 1989 ban also significantly weakened the EPA’s authority under TSCA to enforce it.  Spray-applied materials (like fireproofing) and block thermal system insulation (TSI) were previously banned. 

Usage of asbestos has drastically decreased in the US, however, it has not been removed from all buildings that have been constructed using materials with asbestos.  Therefore, even banned materials like spray-on fireproofing may still be present in old building.  Additionally, new building materials may still be produced with asbestos in a country where asbestos has not been banned.  These products may not be labeled as asbestos containing when imported into the US, meaning a newly constructed building may still have asbestos!

The health hazard from asbestos is limited when building materials are in good condition.  However, when materials are damaged, or during demolition or renovation, asbestos fibers can be released, resulting in potential asbestos exposure. 

There are multiple federal regulations covering asbestos:

  • The Asbestos Hazard Emergency Response Act (AHERA) requires routine inspections of K-12 schools for asbestos-containing building materials and management plans for asbestos.
  • The OSHA General Industry standard (29 CFR 1910-1001) requires building owners of buildings with employees to notify occupants of the location and quantity of asbestos in the building.
  • The OSHA Construction standard (29 CFR 1926-1101) regulates asbestos exposure during construction, demolition, or renovation.
  • National Emission Standards for Hazardous Air Pollutants (NESHAP) regulations specify work practices for asbestos during demolition and renovation of all structures, installations, and buildings (except residential buildings with less than four units), including a thorough inspection for asbestos prior to commencing demolition or renovation.

How do these regulations work in practice, and what can you do to address a potential asbestos hazard? 

If you are a building owner, you may have a responsibility under OSHA to inspect for asbestos and notify your building occupants.  If you are a demolition or renovation contractor, you may have a responsibility to perform an inspection before your project and notify the appropriate state agency before commencing, and there are safe practices to follow to handle asbestos containing materials.  If there is more than a certain quantity (listed in the regulations), you may need to use a licensed asbestos removal contactor to remove those materials.  Friable asbestos containing wastes must be labeled and disposed of in an appropriate disposal facility that is able to accept asbestos.  

In Ohio, the Ohio EPA set standards for education and licensing of asbestos inspectors and removal contractors.  The Ohio Administrative Code (OAC) requires the owner or operator of demolition and renovation project to have the affected building or part of the building inspected by a certified asbestos hazard evaluation specialist prior to commencing the demolition or renovation for the presence of asbestos (OAC 3745-20-02(A)).

Here at Bowser Morner, Inc., we have a team of licensed Asbestos Hazard Evaluation Specialists in our Dayton and Toledo, Ohio offices that can perform asbestos inspections in Ohio.  If you need an asbestos inspection, whether it be for a demolition project, renovation project, or to be able to identify asbestos hazards for your building to be able to notify occupants, we are happy to assist you. 

You can find out more and reach out through our website:


If you want to learn more about asbestos, or how asbestos regulations may apply to your business or project, you can read more about asbestos through OSHA and the US EPA here:



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