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New study supports safety of in-place asbestos.

Neither building workers nor occupants face significant risks from asbestos maintenance activities in buildings, concludes a study presented in San Francisco at IAQ '92: Environments for People. The study, titled "Exposure Inferences from Airborne Asbestos Measurements in Buildings" was co-authored by Dr. Bertram Price, a former scientific consultant to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), and Dr. Renny S. Crump, one of the country's leading risk assessment experts.

Many studies have shown that building occupants (secretarial, clerical and executive personnel) face very, very small risks from in-place asbestos. Questions have been recently raised, however, about risks to building maintenance and repair personnel who disturb asbestos themselves and potentially expose others in the vicinity. The new study provides answers to these questions.

Derived from air samples collected in offices, factories and other buildings with asbestos-containing materials (ACM), the study concludes that "routine M/R [maintenance and repair] work involving ACM does not significantly affect average airborne asbestos levels in buildings." Typical practices for dealing with ACM include awareness of its location, worker training, controlling disturbances by use of wet methods and special vacuums.

"This report provides new support for Environmental Protection Agency and American Medical Association positions that managing asbestos in-place is safe and cost-effective," said John Welch, President, Safe Buildings Alliance. "It shows that trained maintenance workers typically disturb asbestos infrequently, for short periods of time and with minimal exposures to themselves and others. "

Specifically, the report shows:

* For maintenance and repair activities, projected annual exposures for workers range from less than 0.0001 f/cc per year to approximately 0.02 f/cc per year at the 90th percentile. Applying potency factors representing cancer risk for nonsmokers corresponding to 40 years of employment... leads to estimates of lifetime risk for workers of 1.6 per million to 3.3 per ten thousand * Occupant exposure in buildings with ACM ranges from average levels of 0.00003 to 0.00075 f/cc. These levels correspond to lifetime risks from 40 years exposure of 0.5 per million and 1.2 per hundred thousand

The findings of this study are consistent with a report released in September 1991 by the Health Effects Institute Asbestos Research (HEI-AR) which stressed the safety of in-place asbestos. The congressionally-mandated study concluded in part that "ACM within buildings in good repair is unlikely to expose office workers... to airborne asbestos fiber concentrations above the levels found in air outside such buildings."

Dr. Bertram Price is President of Price Associates, Inc. in Washington, D.C. Dr. Kenny S. Crump is senior vice president of Clement International Corporation in Ruston, LA. Financial support for the research leading to this paper was provided by the Safe Buildings Alliance.

The Safe Buildings Alliance is an association of leading building products companies that formerly manufactured asbestos-containing materials for building construction. The Alliance is based in Washington, D.C.
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Title Annotation:study conducted by leading risk assessment experts presented at indoor air quality conference in San Francisco, California
Publication:Real Estate Weekly
Date:Nov 4, 1992
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