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California asbestos abatement contractor fined for violations

A California asbestos abatement contractor has been fined for violations of state and federal laws relating to improper handling of asbestos. The Consumer and Environmental Protection Unit of the Monterey County District Attorney and the Environmental Protection Unit of the Santa Cruz County District Attorney's Office announce made a statement on January 17.

The asbestos abatement contractor, Z-Con Specialty Services, settled the case for $180,000 in penalties, costs and supplemental environmental projects. The business and the owner are also subject to a permanent injunction. The injunction will force the company to maintain strict compliance with all asbestos abatement laws.

The company was responsible for removing building materials from construction sites. Any time work on a building that was built prior to the 1990s will involve demolition or modification of the structure, an asbestos abatement contractor is necessary, as they are supposed to understand and comply with the special environmental regulations for handling material that may contain asbestos.

Demolition work is especially dangerous when faced with asbestos laden materials. Cutting, drilling, sanding and otherwise disturbing asbestos floor and ceiling tiles, wallboard and plaster, pipe and heating duct wrapped in asbestos insulation, brittle roofing shingles and tiles, can all release asbestos fibers into the air, where they can be inhaled and lodge deep in the lungs.

Both employees of the abatement contractor and any others working on the site are at risk for exposure to asbestos contaminants.

Exposure to airborne asbestos dust and fibers can lead to asbestos-related diseases, such as mesothelioma. These diseases are slow to develop, often only being diagnosed decades after the exposure.

Asbestos abatement contractors are strictly regulated to prevent the kind of activity that this contractor engaged in, and violations are aggressively prosecuted to prevent them from reoccurring.

Source: The Californian, "San Jose contractor fined for asbestos violations ," January, 18, 2013

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