SACRAMENTO, CA -- August 10, 2001 -- The California Air Resources Board recently adopted rules to limit public exposure to asbestos-laden dust from construction sites and quarries. Under the new rules, builders and miners must significantly reduce dust emissions when working in areas with asbestos-containing rock. Construction sites of more than one acre must develop a dust control plan.
The required measures for construction and grading activities include using water to reduce asbestos dust during grading and excavation work, treating unpaved roads with water or chemical dust suppressants, and preventing dirt from being tracked out onto adjacent roads. In addition, quarries must control emissions from rock crushers, conveyors, and storage piles.
Asbestos Dust in El Dorado County and the Sierras
The Board's action comes in the wake of asbestos problems in El Dorado County, California, which is an area of naturally-occurring serpentine rock and soil. Associated with earthquake fault zones and mountainous regions, serpentine often has a high asbestos content. In El Dorado county, serpentine rock was used on rural roadways, driveways, and playgrounds.
"As more people move into areas where asbestos-containing rock is common, the possibility of exposure increases," said Alan Lloyd, the Air Resources Board chairman. Asbestos dust can be kicked up when serpentine is disturbed by new home construction, road building, road traffic, and quarry operations.
Commenting on the new construction and quarry rules, Lloyd added, "The measures we adopted today will better protect Californians from the potential threat of cancer, asbestosis and mesothelioma caused by exposure to asbestos fibers." The Board had lowered the amount of asbestos allowed in rocks used for road surfacing and ornamental applications in April 2001.