EPA Asbestos Research Project Raises Safety Concerns

Posted on October 17, 2014 in Blog

When even the EPA can make errors in asbestos handling, it’s clear you should never use an amateur contractor for asbestos removal projects.

EPAStandards for what is considered “safe” use and handling of asbestos have changed dramatically over the years. Up until the 1970s, asbestos was widely used in all sorts of industries, from shipbuilding to homebuilding, despite growing evidence that inhaling asbestos fibers is very dangerous to human health.

Now we understand the risks of asbestos exposure and have detailed protocols for removing hazardous asbestos-containing materials from building sites without creating more contamination in the process. However, industry experts are always looking for ways to improve the efficiency of asbestos removal processes without compromising safety.

Such was the goal for a series of EPA experiments related to asbestos removal. The EPA wanted to test an alternative method for dealing with asbestos-containing materials in buildings slated for total demolition. This alternative method consists of wetting down all asbestos-containing materials before and during the demolition process. This method is already approved for buildings that are unsafe for work crews to enter due to structural instability in fact, this is essentially the only method available for such buildings.

The EPA wanted to see whether this method was sufficiently safe to use on all demolitions, because it would save significant time and labor versus the traditional method of having crews enter the building and strip out all asbestos-containing materials prior to demolition.

According to the EPA’s inspector general, the EPA overlooked violations of environmental law and disregarded research guidelines when testing the alternative method between 2004 and 2012. This resulted in possible asbestos exposure risks to workers and to the public. It also wasted a lot of money the research project cost roughly $3.5 million.

The EPA was responded to the criticism by stating that they are improving their research protocols and taking steps to require all research planning to include oversight by and input from senior managers.

When even the EPA can make errors in asbestos handling, it should be abundantly clear that this complex work should not be attempted by your average contractor. Instead, you need a specialist like H2 Environmental, a certified asbestos management company that can help guide you through all necessary steps in the project, ensuring that qualified workers are selected and best practices for safe asbestos removal are always followed.