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Need for in-place asbestos management stressed.

This past March, the New Orleans Conference Center played host to the Eighth Annual Environmental Conference and Exposition, sponsored by Atlanta-based National Asbestos Council (NAC). The conference, generally convened to address environmental implications, largely focused on managing asbestos in place. In this regard, the conferees' attention was directed to a reference guide published by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), A Building Owner's Guide to Operations and Maintenance Programs for Asbestos-Containing Materials, and informed of its instructional merit for creating and maintaining an asbestos management program.

Linda J. Fisher, assistant administrator for the EPA, delivered the keynote address, in which she presented her agency's two primary objectives for 1991: first, to dispel the lingering public anxiety about asbestos and replace it with a clear, responsible view of current conditions and threat assessments; second, to determine what, if any, additional regulatory steps need be taken to resolve the problems posed by asbestos in public and commercial buildings.

In presenting these goals, Fisher said that five fundamental facts bear continued recognition:

* Although asbestos is hazardous, human risk depends upon exposure.

* Available data suggests existing asbestos levels in buildings seem very low; accordingly, the health risk to the public does not appear pronounced.

* Removal is only occasionally an owner's best response to potential asbestos exposure.

* The EPA only requires removal pursuant to significant potential public exposure - such as during renovation or demolition.

* The EPA strongly recommends inplace management whenever asbestos is discovered.

- Cindy Barron, Special Projects


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Article Type:column
Date:Apr 1, 1991
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