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Status of asbestos containing floor tiles


mthomas1
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I was more that a bit surprised to discover that (underlining mine):

Clarification on Ban of Asbestos-Containing Materials

April 28, 1999

I. Introduction:

This clarification presents correct information with regard to the status of asbestos products that are banned by the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) at this time, as well as categories of asbestos-containing products that are NOT subject to a ban.

The clarification is needed because EPA finds that there are misunderstandings about its bans on asbestos-containing materials (ACM) and products or uses. Newspaper and magazine articles, Internet information, even some currently available (but outdated) documents from the EPA and other federal agencies may contain statements about an EPA asbestos ban that are incorrect...

III. TOXIC SUBSTANCES CONTROL ACT (TSCA) Authority:

A. July 1989 EPA rule commonly known as the Asbestos Ban and Phaseout Rule (40 CFR 763, Sec. 762.160 - 763.179)

NOTE: Much of the original rule was vacated and remanded by the U.S. Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals in 1991. Thus, the original 1989 EPA ban on the U.S. manufacture, importation, processing, or distribution in commerce of many asbestos-containing product categories was set aside and did not take effect.

B. Federal Register, Nov. 5, 1993 (58 FR 58964), factual determinations:continuing restrictions on certain asbestos-containing products.

In this FR notice, EPA stated its position regarding the status of its ban on various asbestos-containing product categories. The status is briefly summarized below:

Products still banned -

Six asbestos-containing product categories that are still subject to the asbestos ban include:

1) corrugated paper, 2) rollboard, 3) commercial paper, 4) speciality paper, 5) flooring felt, and 6) new uses of asbestos.

Products not banned -

Asbestos-containing product categories no longer subject to the 1989 TSCA ban include: 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, non-roofing coatings, and roof coatings.

C. Federal Register, June 28, 1994 (59 FR 33208), Technical Amendment in Response to Court Decision on Asbestos

Revised the language of the asbestos ban rule to conform to the 1991 Court decision. Contains definitions; manufacturing and importation prohibitions; processing, and distribution in commerce prohibitions. Also clarifies labeling requirements for specified asbestos-containing products.

IV. SUMMARY

A. BANS on some ACM products and uses remain at this time (April 1999)

What are they?

Under the Clean Air Act:

* Most spray-applied Surfacing ACM

* Sprayed-on application of materials containing more than 1% asbestos to buildings, structures, pipes, and conduits unless the material is encapsulated with a bituminous or resinous binder during spraying and the materials are not friable after drying.

* Wet-applied and pre-formed asbestos pipe insulation, and pre-formed asbestos block insulation on boilers and hot water tanks.

Under the Toxic Substances Control Act:

* Corrugated paper, rollboard, commercial paper, specialty paper, flooring felt, and new uses of asbestos.

B. EPA has no existing bans on most other asbestos-containing products or uses.

Source:

http://yosemite.epa.gov/R10/OWCM.NSF/ff9b947f011c3690882564e40077055b/43ec9d1bd99e460588256770007c17a8?OpenDocument

This is 180 degrees off from almost everything that I have read about asbestos and almost everything that's been said in casual conversation with other home inspectors, and I'm now wondering what the heck else I don't know about asbestos and its legal status.

I was not able to establish easily whether much ready modern residential flooring material contained substantial quantities of asbestos, but here's the comment that got me wondering:

"The worst part, I think, is that most people don't realize that you can still buy asbestos-containing floor tiles (among other things) in the US. Its never been banned. You can go to Lowes, Home Depot, etc. and pick up a box of brand new floor tile that will say absolutely nothing about "asbestos", but will still have 10 to 15%. They use magic words like "natural fibers" or the the specific asbestos name like "Chrysotile" or the more generic group name "Serpentine"."

Anyone have a really up-to-date source that addresses these issues?

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Hi,

I'm not sure why it's a surprise. Here on TIJ, we've pointed out before that the 1978 ban had been lifted in the early 1980's and that asbestos is still being used today. It's in commentary in the archives somewhere in here.

What comes as a surprise to me - and I guess I have to do some more reading on the topic - is that there'd been a second attempt in 1989 to ban it. I'd thought that when the first ban was lifted they'd given up trying to ban it because, by then, a lot of manufacturers were phasing it out of their products.

I'd like to see a list of who actually still uses it in their products. I'd guess that most U.S. manufacturers do not but that many Canadian manufacturers, where it was never considered banned, do.

Is there such a list of manufacturers and their product anywhere? Does anyone know?

ONE TEAM - ONE FIGHT;!!!

Mike

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