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Asbestos and Dust Control Seminar

Pinal County AZ

FLORENCE AZ (September 9, 2012) – Valued for its flame retardancy, structural integrity and insulation properties, asbestos was widely used in construction until the 1980s. It can still be used today in certain applications. The United States has not banned the use of asbestos but its use is limited and special consideration is necessary when working around asbestos. Pinal County Arizona will present a seminar on October 19, 2012 from 8:00 a.m. until 4:00 p.m. to explain the federal rules and requirements for working around asbestos.

“People would be surprised at the wide variety of products and materials that contain asbestos,” said Kale Walch, Pinal County’s Air Quality program representative. “The federal regulations on asbestos presume that any commercial structure may contain the substance. The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) rules require testing to prove that asbestos is not present.”

Vermiculite insulation

Why do we need to be concerned about asbestos?

According to the EPA web site, asbestos is a mineral fiber that has been used commonly in a variety of building construction materials for insulation and as a fire-retardant. Because of its fiber strength and heat resistant properties, asbestos has been used for a wide range of manufactured goods, mostly in building materials (roofing shingles, ceiling and floor tiles, paper products, and asbestos cement products), friction products (automobile clutch, brake, and transmission parts), heat-resistant fabrics, packaging, gaskets, and coatings.

When asbestos-containing materials are damaged or disturbed by repair, remodeling or demolition activities, microscopic fibers become airborne and can be inhaled into the lungs, where they can cause significant health problems. Three major lung diseases associated with asbestos are:

  • Asbestosis — Asbestosis is a serious, progressive, long-term non-cancer disease of the lungs. It is caused by inhaling asbestos fibers that irritate lung tissues and cause the tissues to scar. The scarring makes  it hard for oxygen to get into the blood. Symptoms of asbestosis include shortness of breath and a dry, crackling sound in the lungs while inhaling. There is no effective treatment for asbestosis.
  • Lung Cancer — Lung cancer causes the largest number of deaths related to asbestos exposure. People who work in the mining, milling, manufacturing of asbestos, and those who use asbestos and its products are more likely to develop lung cancer than the general population. The most common symptoms of lung cancer are coughing and a change in breathing. Other symptoms include shortness of breath, persistent chest pains, hoarseness, and anemia.
  • Mesothelioma – Mesothelioma is a rare form of cancer that is found in the thin lining (membrane) of the lung, chest, abdomen, and heart and almost all cases are linked to exposure to asbestos. This disease may not show up until many years after asbestos exposure. This is why great efforts are being made to prevent school children from being exposed.

It is important to be aware that an asbestos contaminate can be found in vermiculite. Vermiculite is sourced from a mine near Libby, Montana and provided over 70 percent of all vermiculite sold in the U.S. from 1919 to 1990. There was also a deposit of asbestos at that mine, so the vermiculite from Libby was contaminated with asbestos. 

Vermiculite from Libby was used in the majority of vermiculite insulation in the U.S. and was often sold under the brand name Zonolite. The EPA is advising if you have vermiculite insulation in your home, assume this material may be contaminated with asbestos and be aware of steps you can take to protect yourself and your family from exposure. For more information on vermiculite, visit http://www.epa.gov/asbestos/pubs/verm.html.

The EPA rules are administered by Pinal County ’s Air Quality program. Prior to remodeling, additions, construction or renovations to existing commercial structures, the structure must be tested for asbestos.

“We’re holding this seminar on October 19 to help educate and inform the contractor, builder, remodeler and building management community,” Walch explained. “We will also cover dust control requirements for a variety of commercial construction projects.”

The October 19 seminar would be ideal for professionals such as:

  • Facility Managers
  • Building Owners
  • Developers
  • Contractors & Remodelers
  • Fire Departments
  • Permitting Agencies

In addition to the local requirements, the seminar will cover the Asbestos Hazard Emergency Response Act (AHERA) and requirements of the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA).

Registration IS required but attendance is free:  To register go to www.eia-az.org.

The program will be held in the Emergency Operations Center to the right of the main entrance to Building F at 31 North Pinal Avenue, Florence, Arizona.

The registration deadline is October 15, 2012, the Monday prior to the October 19 workshop. Lunch will be provided. For more information, contact Kale Walch, Pinal County Air Quality program at 520-866-6960.

Article submitted to SedonaEye.com and Sedona Times Publishing by Joe Pyritz with EPA.gov sourcing.

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