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close this bookAsbestos Overview and Handling Recommendations (GTZ, 1996)
close this folderPart II. Asbestos
close this folder2. Legal regulations for the production, introduction to the market and use of Asbestos containing materials and Asbestos products
View the document(introduction...)
View the document2.1 Federal Republic of Germany
View the document2.2 Directives of the European Community
View the document2.3 United States of America
View the document2.4 Standards in other countries (incl. developing countries)
View the document2. 5 International standards: International Labor Organization

2.3 United States of America

The Asbestos regulations in the USA are primarily determined by the two federal authorities "Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)" and "Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) ". The EPA is the federal environmental authority, OSHA determines formulations and implementation of occupational measures.


The regulations of EPA are related to:

· use and removal of ACM (Asbestos containing material) in new buildings or during renovation of buildings;

· identification of Asbestos in public buildings (schools) and control of fiber emissions;

· industrial Asbestos fiber emissions.

The first regulations of the EPA on Asbestos date from 1973. They were in the frame of the NESHAP-Program (National Emission Standards for Hazardous Air Pollutants), which directly addressed the Asbestos processing industry and prohibited the use of sprayed Asbestos in new buildings. Furthermore, measures in handling Asbestos during abatement/removal plans were formulated. This legislation was appended and modified several times (1975,1978, 1990). Today the use of sprayed Asbestos in connection with renovation and constructional modifications is forbidden; additionally, there are rules and limits for the disposal of Asbestos containing materials.

The second legal regulation of the EPA falls under the "Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA)", which can be compared to the (German) Hazardous Substance Ordinance and is the main legal reference source for the control of Asbestos in the USA. The Rule 40 CFR, Part 763 or AHERA 1987, "Final rules and notice (Friable Asbestos Containing Materials in School)" referred to Asbestos in schools and consequently established very strict rules. This Rule included, in particular, the regular supervision and analysis of friable Asbestos fibers, documentation of all suspected cases and the results, and information of the affected public.

The maximum allowable Asbestos fiber concentration in the air according to the AHERA-Rule is dependent on the size of the critical area:

(1) In an area with less than 160 ft² or with a length less than 260 ft, the limit is 0.01 F/cm³ (F=Fibers). The analysis is to be performed according to NIOSH 7400. At least 5 samples must be analyzed.

(2) The documentation of a successful abatement by removing Asbestos containing materials is performed in 3 steps: visual inspection; new sampling of the air in the problem area and outdoors; and microscopic determination of fiber concentrations.


The OSHA-Laws apply to occupational safety in all work places which have contact with hazardous substances. Hence, they also apply to Asbestos. Their application is limited to only the industrial area. The goal of the formulation of the OSHA-rules on Asbestos was health protection, particularly against the already known risks Asbestosis, mesotholioma and cancer, primarily due to inhalation of Asbestos fibers into the lungs.

The first regulations under OSHA were implemented in 1972 and were modified in 1976 and 1986. They specified limits for fiber concentrations in the air at workplaces for the employees in the Asbestos industry, in addition to control mechanisms, medical exams (preventive care), workplace practices and necessary protective clothing for workers.

OSHA refers to the so-called TWA (= time weighted average), meaning that the allowable concentrations depend on the period of exposure. Different time periods were referenced in the legislature, whereby the 8-hour cycle is the most important, since it matches the length of shifts.

The most important rules and limits are as follows:

(1) PEL = permissible exposure limit

0.2 F/cm³ for a weighted average over 8 hours

This value of 0.2 F/cm³ for a fiber length of > 5 ym was fixed in 1986 by the amendment 29 CFR 1926.58 and represents a significant reduction of the former limits.

(2) Above 0.1 F/cm³ for a weighted average over 8 hours there are specific health and safety measures to be undertaken.

These include primarily particular protective clothing, but also obligatory instructions and training measures as well as medical exams.

A summary of the development in the U.S. federal legislation on Asbestos is presented in Annex 4.