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close this bookAsbestos Overview and Handling Recommendations (GTZ, 1996)
close this folderPart IV Country analysis
close this folder4 Country profiles
View the document4.1 Australia
View the document4.2 Chile
View the document4.3 Republic of China
View the document4.4 India
View the document4.5 Israel
View the document4.6 South Africa
View the document4.7 Tunisia
View the document4.8 USA

4.8 USA

The national consumption and production of Asbestos fibers have drastically dropped in the USA over the past few years. In 1991 about 34,000 tons were processed, compared to 84,000 tons in 1987. Asbestos fibers are mined in different mines in the USA. Among the largest are KCAC Inc. San Benito County, California and Vermont Asbestos Group, Vermont. The national production currently lies around 15,500 tons/a (1992). The main production is of chrysotile, which is mined in underground mines. About 70 people (in 1992) currently work in the area of Asbestos mines and mills. The total turnover was around 6.1 million U.S.$ in 1991. The USA imported about 34,000 tons of raw Asbestos from Canada and South Africa in 1991. The main application areas for Asbestos fibers are shown in Table 35.

In 1991 the USA exported about 25,600 tons of Asbestos fibers and exported Asbestos containing products with a total value of 116 million U.S. $. Among the top purchasing countries are Canada, Japan, Mexico and Great Britain. In Table 36 the export gains are shown according to product group.

Table 35: Use of Asbestos Fibers in the USA

Area of Use

Chrysotile Fibers

Crocidolite (consumption, 1991 (tons))

Asbestos cement pipes

3,400

300

Asbestos cement boards

1,600

-

Coatings

800

-

Friction materials

9,500

-

Packaging materials



Gaskets

2,900

-

Paper products

<<1,000

-

Synthetic materials

<<1,000

-

Roofing

15,100

-

venous

600

-

_ (Chrysotile + Crocidolite)

34,000

Source: own compilation

Table 36: US - Export Gains from Asbestos Containing Products (1991)

Product Groups

Export Gains (US$)

Asbestos fibers (special fibers)

772,000

Brake lining and disks

86,980,000

Clutch lining and disks

6,637,000

Textiles. woven materials, yam

724,000

Gaskets and packaging

6,841,000

Sheets, coverings, pipes (Asbestos cement as well as cellulose fiber cement)

4,651,000

Paper products etc.

1,155,000

Various

8,254,000

Total

116,015,000

Source: own compilation

4.8.2 Legislation

The legislation in the USA has already been discussed in Chapter 2.3, Part II and in Annex 4. There are strict regulations regarding Asbestos uses, abatement and disposal. Asbestos is recognized as a hazardous substance in the air and water, as proven by numerous research results. There are prescribed limits, which are listed in Part 11, Chapter 2.3 for air contamination. In the water the limit according to the current state of knowledge is 7 million fibers/l. Numerous states and cities have implaced even stricter guidelines.

The Asbestos legislation of the USA is mainly determined by two federal agencies: "Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)" and "Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA)." The EPA is the federal environmental agency; OSHA formulates and implements occupational protection measures.

· EPA

The regulations of the EPA refer to

· Use and removal of (Asbestos containing material) Asbestos material in new buildings or remodeled buildings
· Identification of Asbestos in public buildings (schools) and control of fiber emission
· Industrial Asbestos fiber emissions

The first regulations of the EPA on Asbestos originate from 1973. They were passed in the frame of the NESHAP-Program (National Emission Standards for Hazardous Air Pollutants), which was directly addressed to the Asbestos processing industry and forbade the use of sprayed Asbestos in new buildings. Furthermore, measures in handling Asbestos during abatement were formulated. This legislation has been updated several times and modified (1975,1978, 1990). Currently the use of sprayed Asbestos is also forbidden in connection with renovation and remodeling, and rules and limits exist 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 Substances Ordinance and is the main legal reference source for the control of Asbestos in the USA. The Ordinance 40 CFR, Part 763 or AHERA 1987, "Final rules and notice (Friable Asbestos Containing Materials in School)" refer to Asbestos in schools and implaced very restrictive rules. They include in particular the regular supervision and analysis of friable Asbestos fibers, the documentation of all suspected ACM and results and the information of the affected public.

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

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

(2) The documentation of successful abatement using removal of ACM proceeds in 3 steps: visual inspection, renewed sampling of the air in the problem area and the ambient air, and microscopic determination of the fiber concentrations.

· OSHA

The OSHA-Laws apply to occupational safety in all workplaces 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.

4.8.3 Research and Development

In the USA numerous research projects have been performed in the past few years in all areas of the Asbestos subject. Corresponding reports and review articles are continually being published, so that technical literature can be referred to at this point.

Regarding the research situation in the area of medicine and occupational medicine, it can generally be stated that in the past years a particular polarization of the main opinions has resulted and thereby also a polarization of the research contents. On the one hand, the opinion is supported that primarily amphibole Asbestos represents a health danger, while no special danger for the health is posed by chrysotile, which is currently nearly the only used form. Another group near the Mt. Sinai Hospital considers the intake of any kind of Asbestos fibers as health damaging, and judges Asbestos to be a hazard for the well-being of the general public.

Since a large fraction of all research programs in the USA are financed by private institutes, including lobby groups, economic interests also play a role in the evaluation of the research.

The US-environmental authorities recently presented a 4 million-U.S.$-study, which summarized the current state of knowledge in the form of a literature review of all important research results (Asbestos in Public and Commercial Buildingss: A Literature Review and Synthesis of Current Knowledge). This study is being controversially discussed in specialized circles.

In the area of development of substitutes, a great number of research programs are being performed, which are spurred by the increasingly strict regulations in handling Asbestos. These research studies are financed by both the public sector and private enterprises.

4.8.4 Substitutes

Due to the legal requirements, considerable efforts have been undertaken by the American industry in the past few years to substitute Asbestos containing products with environmentally safer alternatives. The most typical substitutes are listed in Table 37.

The substitutes for Asbestos containing materials listed in Table 37 are available from national production. Regarding the processing ability and the technical properties, the evaluations presented in Part 111 are applicable.

Table 37: Substitutes for Asbestos Containing Materials in the USA

Area of Application

Substitutes

Price in Comparison to
Asbestos Containing Materials

Textiles

glass fibers, ceramic fibers,carbon

expensive


fibers, aramide fibers, PBI-fibers

expensive

Paper. cardboard

fiber glass, ceramic fibers,

expensive

Insulation materials

calcium silicate, cement

inexpensive

Packaging

fiber glass, plant fibers

expensive

Gasket materials

carbon fibers, aramide fibers,

expensive


PBI fibers, PTFE-fibers

expensive


graphite

comparable


cellulose

varies


mica

inexpensive

Cement products

calcium silicate

inexpensive


cellulose

varies


mineral wool, fiber glass

expensive


ceramic fibers

expensive


wrought iron piping

expensive


PVC piping

varies


Vinyl or aluminum reinforcements

no information

Facade coverings

calcium silicate,

inexpensive


cellulose,

varies


fiber glass, mineral wool,

expensive


ceramic fibers

expensive


PVC corrugated board

varies


vinyl or aluminum sheets

no information

Paints,

cellulose

no information

Coating materials

PE, PP fibers

no information


fiber glass, ceramic fibers

expensive


clay, french chalk, silicious calcite

inexpensive


calcium carbonate

inexpensive


silica gel

varies

Roofing

fiber glass, slate fibers, metal sheets

expensive


cellulose

varies


wooden shingles, plain tiles

no information

Friction materials

aramide fibers, ceramic fibers,

expensive


franklinite fibers



fiber glass

expensive


cellulose

varies


all metal (disk brakes)

no information

Tiles, floors, etc.

french chalk, clay, mica

inexpensive


silicious calcite

comparable

PE - Polythene, PP - Polypropylene, PBI - Polybenzimidazol, PTFE - Polytetrafluoro ethylene

Source: own compilation

4.8.5 Risk Philosophy

The potential hazard of Asbestos containing material has been clearly recognized in the USA. This is evident from the relevant laws, ordinances and industrial norms, as well as from the number of research projects and studies. The risk philosophy in the USA concerning Asbestos can currently be considered exemplary and has the best and most advanced state worldwide. The authorities pay attention to the obeyance of the safety regulations through extensive control measurements.

In the future a further strictening of the Asbestos laws is expected at federal level. Already, corresponding norms exist in part at state or municipal level.