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What You Don't Know About Asbestos

What You Don't Know About Asbestos

What You Don't Know About Asbestos

If you asked the average person in the United States today what they knew about asbestos, they would probably answer something along the lines of “it is a dangerous material that is now banned for use”. Those people would only be half right. Asbestos is a naturally occurring mineral that is highly toxic but is yet to be banned in the United States.

In fact, asbestos is banned in more than 50 countries including Canada, all of the countries in the European Union and more. It is still used in manufacturing things such as gaskets, roofing materials, etc. The mineral is highly regulated but it is still allowed to be used in manufacturing products as long as it accounts for less than one percent of that product.

It was used in many different products before scientists and civilians alike realized the mineral was dangerous and put regulations in place. It is an effective insulator so it has been used in paper, cement, plastic and other materials in order to make it stronger. Asbestos becomes dangerous when it is inhaled or ingested as the fibers become trapped inside the body. Over time, the dangerous mineral begins to wreak havoc on the human body.

Health Effects of Asbestos

Years after asbestos has been ingested or inhaled, it can cause inflammation, scarring and eventually genetic damage. It is known as a human carcinogen that can cause a multitude of health issues. The mineral has been linked to a rare form of cancer called mesothelioma, ovarian cancer, lung cancer and laryngeal cancer. Outside of cancer, asbestos can also cause pleural effusions, pleural plaques, asbestosis and more.

With all of the risks that come with the use of asbestos and the number of countries that have totally banned the use of the mineral, some may wonder what the United States does to reduce harm from asbestos. While the mineral is not banned totally in the United States, there are limits. It was put on the list for the top ten chemicals for priority action under the Frank R. Lautenberg Chemical Safety for the 21st Century Act. The Lautenberg Act is designed to give the EPA more leverage against hazardous materials. Adding asbestos to that priority list puts it under review by the agency. 

Asbestos began to be regulated in the United States during the 1970s and laws were implemented for years to come. One of the most well-known regulations passed is AHERA (Asbestos Hazard Emergency Response Act), which was passed in 1986. AHERA was put into place to protect schools in America. From AHERA, there have been many regulations born, such as those that require public schools, non-profit schools (including religious institutions and charter schools) to inspect their buildings for asbestos-containing material (ACM) and to have management plans in place in order to take action to prevent or reduce asbestos hazards. To learn more about AHERA, go to www.epa.gov/asbestos/asbestos-and-school-buildings.


Another government agency in the United States that helps to regulate asbestos is OSHA (Occupational Safety and Health Administration). OSHA was formed in 1970 in response to dangerous working conditions across the United States. OSHA began to regulate asbestos as soon as 1972. Through the years and with the ever-increasing information about asbestos, OSHA came up with its three main protections. 

The three main protections from OSHA are Permissible Exposure Limit (PEL), Assessment and Monitoring. PEL for asbestos is 0.1 fiber per cubic centimeter of air as an 8-hour time-weighted average (TWA) with an excursion limit (EL) of 1.0 asbestos fibers per cubic centimeter over a 30-minute period. With PEL, the employer must make sure that no employee is exposed above those limits. Assessment is the standard in which the workplace must ensure that the specifications must be completed to find if it is present and if the work done will generate airborne fibers by a specific method under each standard.

The third protection is Monitoring. To find if exposure is at or above the PEL or EL for workers, monitoring is necessary. These three protections have helped OSHA find success in helping to prevent health issues from exposure to asbestos. 

META and Asbestos Training

It was from these regulations that businesses, workers and civilians realized they needed to be educated on asbestos and how to handle it. That’s where META (Mayhew Environmental Training Associates) comes into play. META is an environmental and safety training industry leader based in Lawrence, Kansas, training the industry in AHERA, EPA and OSHA standards since 1987.

META offers a number of classes on multiple subjects. The classes are offered online, in-person and through webinar. One such class is the Two Hour Asbestos Awareness Training Course. The course focuses on what people who work in buildings with asbestos should do. META offers this course in both Spanish and English for just $45.00. The Two Hour Asbestos Awareness Training Course is open to both individuals and groups. Email info@metaworldwide.com  about group rate discounts.

The course is completely online, meaning you can take it at your own pace. You just have to ensure you finish the course in 30 days or less. For example, if you start the course on September 1, you would have until September 30. META also works quickly to get customers started. Customers can expect to be fully set-up and ready to go within 1-2 days of signing up. 

Though people appear to know that asbestos is dangerous and that they need to steer clear of it, fewer people are aware that it still exists and is used in the United States today. Everyone should be informed on what it is, what dangers it could bring, how to identify it and what to do if you find it. To receive training, contact us here at META at (785) 842-6382, email us at info@metaworldwide.com.

Sources: www.asbestos.com www.epa.gov www.osha.gov 

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