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New rules on asbestos in schools.

New rules on asbestos in schools

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announcedApril 22 its proposed rules directirng elementary and secondary school officials to have buildings inspected and asbestos hazards eliminated. Asbestos, which was used widely for insulation and fireproofing until the 1970s, has been shown to cause chronic lung disease and cancer. EPA developed the rules in accordance with the Asbestos Hazard Emergency Response Act passed last October. This fall, EPA will issue the final version of these proposed rules, which must be implemented by school districts by July 1989.

EPA's proposed rules are more stringent than its pastguidelines, which only required school districts to inspect buildings and notify parents and school employees of their findings. And unlike previous regulations, which covered only asbestos in its "friable" (dry and easily pulverized) form, the new rules give guidelines for the treatment of nonfriable asbestos as well.

According to the new rules, school buildings can be occupiedonly if there is no more than 0.1 asbestos fiber per cubic centimeter in the air. The agency, which had estimated in 1984 that 45,000 schools contain asbestos, expects the cost of implementing the rules to be $3.2 billion over 30 years; most of the funds will have to be raised by local sources.
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Publication:Science News
Date:May 9, 1987
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