Yes, asbestos laws & regulations protect individuals by striving to prevent exposure to this hazardous material.
Because asbestos is a highly carcinogenic substance that can cause serious health problems ranging from respiratory issues to lung cancer, the federal government and the state of California have both instituted laws and regulations designed to protect individuals from exposure to this hazardous substance.
The Asbestos Ban
Starting in the 1970s, the EPA initiated several bans on various types of asbestos-containing materials, culminating in a near-total ban in 1989 via the Toxic Substances Control Act. While many of the provisions in this act were overturned by the Supreme Court in 1991, asbestos use in America still declined dramatically. Materials containing more than 1 percent asbestos continue to be banned, which has greatly improved the safety of new buildings.
The state of California has many asbestos laws and regulations in place designed to protect individuals who many come in contact with asbestos as part of their jobs. The state can actually shut down workplaces if officials have reason to believe that damaged asbestos is present and inadequate steps have been taken to protect employees from airborne asbestos fibers.
Asbestos Remediation Regulations
Some of the most important asbestos laws and regulations in the state of California relate to asbestos remediation projects. Because so much asbestos was used in construction prior to the 1970s, many older buildings in cities across the state contain asbestos insulation, flooring, ceiling tiles, paint, or other materials. In order to make sure that these hazardous materials are identified and disposed of properly, the state keeps a close eye on the contractors engaged in this work.
It is actually illegal for any contractor to perform asbestos-related work without a license and certification. Violating this rule is punishable with a misdemeanor charge and a fine of up to $3,000. Further violations will result in even steeper fines and the suspension of the contractor’s license. These punishments provide a strong incentive to comply with the law.
In order to acquire an asbestos certification, a contractor must pass a written exam administered by the Contractors State License Board. Each time that asbestos laws change, the exam is updated and contractors must pass this new exam in order to retain their certification. This testing process ensures that all contractors working with more than 100 square feet of certain asbestos-containing materials are fully versed in and compliant with best practices for asbestos removal and disposal. This in turn helps keep all of us safer, because following best practices for asbestos removal and disposal virtually guarantees that stray asbestos fibers will not be released into the environment during or after the remediation work.