Asbestos Legislation in the 1980s and 1990s
As the 1970s came to a close, the cry for increased legislation and reform regarding asbestos only increased.
As doctors diagnosed more and more cases of mesothelioma, the link between asbestos exposure and the deadly cancer became more obvious.
Asbestos Ban and Phase-Out Rule
The decade-old EPA made a bold move to ban Asbestos altogether, enacting the Asbestos Ban and Phase-out Rule of 1989. The ruling would have, over time, banned all asbestos use in the U.S.
In response to pressure from the asbestos industry, a federal judge overturned this ruling in 1991, leaving only pieces of the ruling intact that kept the ban on any new asbestos products, as well as five existing products. Banned products included flooring felt, rollboard, and corrugated, commercial, and specialty paper.
Asbestos Hazard Emergency Response Act
In 1986 the Asbestos Hazardous Emergency Response Act (AHERA) was enacted in an effort to protect children in the nation’s schools. By this time, it was well known that commercial and residential buildings in every city were constructed with asbestos-containing materials.
AHERA required public and non-profit schools to establish protocols and procedures to inspect, identify, and eradicate asbestos that might be endangering occupants of a building.
The legislation called for schools to create and maintain an Asbestos Management Plan to effectively guide personnel if an asbestos situation arose.
Asbestos Information Act
In 1986, Congress passed the Asbestos Information Act.
Within 90 days of the passage of the law, all industries that produced materials containing asbestos had to report certain information to the EPA.
This included the type or class of product, years of manufacture, and other identifying characteristics necessary to distinguish the material. In turn, the EPA made that information available to the public.
Asbestos School Hazard Abatement Act
In 1990, the Asbestos Hazard Abatement Act was passed to protect the nation’s schoolchildren, teachers, and staff.
This legislation helped strengthen AHERA, aiding states and local schools in maintaining and implementing their asbestos management plan.
As the nation’s schools aged, the EPA reported that 44,000 schools contained “friable” or loose asbestos, exposing 15 million students and 1.5 million teachers and support staff.