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Sunday, June 20, 2021

Future Environment Designs Celebrates the New Normal with New Pricing!

We are now fully open that the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) has decided that fully vaccinated people can resume normal activities and New York State has announced that 70% of New Yorkers have received the first dose.  We have updated our pandemic policy to meet the new requirements.  When you attend training with us please provide proof that you have been vaccinated so we can allow everyone to not wear face coverings.  We strongly recommend the use of the New York State Excelsior Pass System.  The system creates a wallet on your smartphone to allow you to present proof that you've been vaccinated.  If you are not vaccinated, you can either attend a virtual training course or attend an in-person course as long as you wear a face-covering (as per CDC recommendations).

To celebrate the new normal or the return to normal we have decided to adjust our pricing to be more in line with the New York State market, in addition, readers of this blog can now claim a discount on our new prices.  When registering for your class just enter the code FEDTCBLOG15 to get a 15% discount on our published course price.  Remember we still provide our best discounts to our loyal customers (25%).  As part of the online (virtual) requirements, we were required to create class interactions and a way to administer the exam.  Since these have been successful in the virtual classes, we will continue to allow students to take the exam at our Learning Management System (Administrate LMS portal) and will continue using Poll Everywhere to spark conversations in our classes.  To be able to do that you should bring an electronic device (laptop, iPad, smartphone, etc.) to our classes.  We will still have paper exams for those who want to take the exam the old-fashioned way or we don't have internet access.

We've been very busy creating eLearning courses.  We've just finished creating a Lead in Construction Awareness Course and will be completing a Mold in Construction Awareness Course, soon.  We can bundle these courses together with our Asbestos Awareness Course to create an entry-level certificate course (ALM) Asbestos, Lead, and Mold in Construction Awareness or add our Silica in Construction course to create another entry-level certificate course (SLAM) Silica, Lead, Asbestos, and Mold in Construction Awareness.  The ALM certificate course costs $65 and the SLAM certificate course costs $75.  These are significant savings from taking the courses separately.  Please contact us at 1-800-969-3888 to set these courses up for your staff.

Finally, those of you who have attended our classes for years have met Alyssa, my daughter, and remember her cute way of saying wetter-water.  Well, we're happy to announce that Alyssa got married in May to a wonderful woman Sarah Jednak.  We are so happy to have Sarah officially join the family.  We look forward to seeing everyone soon!

Saturday, June 05, 2021

Is There an Appropriate End Date for Asbestos Use?

When we first became an asbestos consultant over 39 years ago, we remember people telling us that buildings will remove all their asbestos materials in 5 years, 10 years, or 15 years depending on who we talked to.  Well, asbestos is still in buildings and this article is about why there are many years still left in this industry.  In the construction industry, there are some who think that a certain year was the end of asbestos use in building materials.  Over the years we have reviewed many asbestos inspection reports or property transfer reports (phase I environmental audits) reporting that since a building or a part of a building was built after 1980 there are no asbestos-containing materials.  The companies making this statement assume that the federal government banned all asbestos-containing materials in 1980.  In New York State, the Department of Labor (NYSDOL), which regulates asbestos abatement, uses the year 1974 in the regulations for determining which buildings require the assumption of building materials that contain asbestos.  While the federal government, under the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) regulation 1926.1101 (k) (1), requires building owners to presume surfacing materials, and thermal system insulations, installed prior to 1980, to contain asbestos.  To refute this presumption these materials must be sampled.  Regarding asphalt and vinyl flooring materials installed no later than 1980 must also be considered asbestos-containing or sampled to refute the designation.  In addition, the regulation also requires if the employers/building owners have actual knowledge, or should have known through the exercise of due diligence, that other materials are asbestos-containing they too must be treated as such.  Owners are required to handle these building materials as asbestos-containing materials (ACM) until a certified asbestos inspector takes samples of the materials, in accordance with the Environmental Protection Agency's (EPA's) Asbestos Hazard Emergency Response Act (AHERA), and the samples verify the materials do not contain asbestos (which usually means multiple samples of the building material have to been taken and all samples must have results that no asbestos is in the building material).  However, are 1974 or 1980 appropriate dates to use in making a determination whether building materials can contain asbestos?  We think not!

The Ban and Attempts to Ban Asbestos

The federal agency with the responsibility for banning asbestos is the EPA.  This agency, under the National Emissions Standards for Hazardous Air Pollutants (NESHAPS), banned the use of asbestos for sprayed-on application of fireproofing and insulating in 1973 and for decorating purposes in 1978.  In 1975 EPA’s NESHAPS regulation also banned the installation of pre-formed (molded) asbestos block insulation on boilers and hot water tanks and the wet-applied and pre-formed (molded) asbestos pipe insulation.  Since two of these bans did not go into effect until after 1974, the New York State end of use date is not appropriate and the construction industry should not use it to determine buildings that contain asbestos.  In 1985 EPA published "Guidance for Controlling Asbestos-Containing Materials in Buildings" which has become known as the "Purple Book".  The Purple Book in Appendix A has a list titled "Asbestos-Containing Materials in Buildings".  This list shows a large number of asbestos-containing materials that were still being used in 1981.  Based on this information, it seems 1980 is not an appropriate end date for asbestos use, including asphalt and vinyl flooring materials.  Under a separate regulation, the Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA), EPA tried to ban and phase out the use of asbestos in 1989.  In 1991 the “Asbestos Ban and Phaseout Rule,” as the rule became known as, was vacated and remanded by the U.S. Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals.  In 1993 EPA stated that corrugated paper, roll board, commercial paper, specialty paper, flooring felt, and new uses of asbestos were still subject to the ban.  Vacating the “Asbestos Ban and Phaseout Rule” meant that a number of building materials could contain asbestos such as asbestos-cement corrugated sheet, asbestos-cement flat sheet, asbestos clothing, pipeline wrap, roofing felt, vinyl-asbestos floor tile, asbestos-cement shingle, millboard, asbestos-cement pipe, automatic transmission components, clutch facings, friction materials, disc brake pads, drum brake linings, brake blocks, gaskets, ceiling tiles, non-roofing coatings, and roof coatings are not banned and could still be used in buildings.  The recent attempt to ban asbestos was made under the amended TSCA regulation.  In 2016, President Barak Obama signed the Frank R. Lautenberg Chemical Safety for the 21st Century Act that amended TSCA and made needed improvements to the law including requiring risk-based chemical assessments.  In 2019 EPA published a final rule called the Significant New Use Rule (SNUR).  The SNUR requires manufacturers and importers to receive EPA approval before starting or resuming manufacturing and importing or processing of asbestos.  Materials subject to this law include adhesives; sealants; roof coatings; arc chutes; beater-add gaskets; extruded sealant tape; and other tapes; filler for acetylene cylinders; high-grade electrical paper; billboard; missile liner; packings; pipeline wrap; reinforced plastics; roofing felt; separators in fuel cells and batteries; vinyl-asbestos floor tile; cement products; woven products; and any other building material.  It is obvious that this law does not ban asbestos nor does it really answer the question of how much asbestos is in commerce currently.  

Electrical wire insulation
Asbestos Used Still Today

Is there an appropriate end date for asbestos use in buildings?  Some headlines indicate the answer to this question is no.  These headlines indicate that some current building materials are contaminated with asbestos or still contain asbestos sufficiently enough for the materials to be considered asbestos-containing materials.  For example, the Asbestos Disease Awareness Organization (ADAO) reported in November 2007 that they sampled a number of current building materials and determined that DAP’s “33” window glazing and “crack shot” spackling paste and Gardner’s leak stopper roof patch all contained asbestos.  DAP’s “33” window glazing was purchased at Home Depot and Lowes for the purpose of the study and contained 2.6% tremolite, and 0.13% chrysotile asbestos (2.73% total asbestos).  DAP’s “crack shot” spackling paste was also purchased at Home Depot and Lowes and contained 0.98% tremolite, and 0.066% chrysotile asbestos (1.05% total asbestos).  Gardner’s “leak stopper roof patch,” along with other products by Gardner, is listed with the National Institute of Health as known asbestos-containing material on the open market and contained 11% chrysotile asbestos.  It is important to remember that the definition of asbestos-containing materials is any material that contains greater than 1% of asbestos in the material.  Though this does not apply to the OSHA asbestos regulation which is more concerned about how much asbestos gets in the air from a material that contains any asbestos.  In addition, the New York Times reported on July 20, 2001, that W. R. Grace & Company’s Monokote (probably #5) fireproofing spray product (used in the late 1980s) was contaminated with tremolite asbestos.  The Seattle Post-Intelligencer reported on February 8, 2005, that seven of W. R. Grace & Company’s current or former executives were indicted on federal charges that they knowingly put their workers and the public in danger through exposure to vermiculite ore contaminated with tremolite asbestos from its mine in Libby, Montana.  In 1990 W. R. Grace & Company closed the mine but the ore was used as attic and wall insulation, wallboard, and fireproofing into the early 1990s.  The asbestos content in these materials can be as high as 2%.  In research conducted by EPA on vermiculite attic insulation in 2001 and 2002, found homeowners that use their attics could be exposed to airborne asbestos fibers above the OSHA permissible exposure limit (0.1 fibers/cubic centimeters).

asbestos woven products

The Liability of Ignorance

Since there is no total ban on the use of asbestos in building materials, it means that 1974 or 1980 are not appropriate cut off dates on the use of asbestos in building materials.  This means all buildings or facilities no matter when they were constructed should be inspected for asbestos-containing materials.  EPA's NESHAP regulation 40 CFR 61.145 Standard for demolition and renovation requires buildings/facilities to be thoroughly inspected before the renovation or demolition, no matter what date the building was built.  It also means that the construction industry should be very careful when working on buildings after these dates because it is possible that if an asbestos inspection or survey was done it may have not been done properly.  From our experience, we've seen inspectors not sample roofing materials, joint compound, sheetrock, textured paint, siding shingles, and window caulking just to name a few building materials that should be sampled.  Building owners, banks, facility managers, architects, engineers, general contractors, and subcontractors should not think that because the EPA regulation requires an inspection, and if the inspection is not done correctly that there is no chance for a violation or liability.  OSHA requires that employers inform their workers of all the potential hazards at a project (job) site.  Should materials that were not inspected turn out to be asbestos-containing or even if the sample result is 1% or trace asbestos and the exposure exceeds the permissible exposure limit (0.1 fibers per cubic centimeter based on an eight hour time-weighted average) or the excursion limit (1.0 fibers per cubic centimeter over thirty minutes) the employer would be in violation of the OSHA asbestos regulation.  No matter the construction date of the building.  The building owner could then face third-party litigation from the workers if they develop a disease (mesothelioma being the most significant because of its direct tie to asbestos exposure) from such an exposure.  In addition, the AHERA regulation which applies to public and private schools (kindergarten to 12th grade)  requires that architects that design new schools or renovations of existing schools certify that the building materials used do not contain asbestos.  Utilizing safety data sheets (SDS), which are required for most building products, to certify the products would not be sufficient considering that DAP’s SDS (discussed above) did not mention the asbestos contamination in the product and the NESHAPS regulation requires building materials to be sampled for the content of asbestos.  Meaning the only way to certify the products to limit liability would be to have suspected materials sampled and analyzed for asbestos.  It is very important for building owners, banks, facility managers, architects, engineers, general contractors, sub-contractors, asbestos inspectors, and phase I environmental auditors to realize that although the asbestos regulations refer to dates before 1980, inspections are advisable and required under the EPA's NESHAPS & OSHA's asbestos regulations since the installation of asbestos-containing materials into buildings can continue to this day.

Fire Door

Chrysotile Asbestos Banned? More Like Certain Conditions of Use Will Be Eventually Banned!

Many of you, as did I, read about the " Ban of Chrysotile Asbestos " and rejoiced over something long overdue.  However, after rea...