The EPA’s OIG has questioned EPA’s policies for some asbestos abatements. Responses conflate asbestos deaths with the EPA’s policy imminent collapse policy.The EPA Office of Inspector General has published a report questioning EPA standards for demolition of buildings imminent danger of collapse. Asbestos abatement during demolition is done, in part, by thoroughly wetting asbestos-containing parts. The unfiltered runoff could exceed EPA’s reportable quantity for asbestos. The OIG report says “release of potentially harmful quantities” in titles.
Environmental reporting says “EPA’s Asbestos Guidelines Pose Serious Threat to Public Health, Says Agency’s Own Inspector General.” This misrepresents the OIG report which does not contain “serious threat” in the report. The OIG report indicates that EPA may be miscounting quantity (1 lb) released, which would activate CERCLA. The EcoWatch article cited above also uses a figure of 12,000-15,000 people killed annually by asbestos from the Environmental Working Group Action Fund, which derived the figures.
The response appears to conflate annual deaths from asbestos (asbestosis, lung cancer, mesothelioma) with demolition of buildings in imminent danger of collapse, in which abatement is done according to established procedures. Also, these diseases generally take years to develop and seem to come from more from people exposed prior to asbestos being recognized as a health risk. Also, the risk from this practice has a very limited footprint for exposure and nothing in the way of air sampling or exposure.
It’s interesting to note that pictures from the OIG report include WWII-era Army buildings at Ft. Chaffee. I’ve stayed in those and a number of other buildings of that genre. As have quite a number of members of the military.
Never let the opportunity for a scare to go to waste?