Part III: State regulation of asbestos

asbestos warning danger sign

Today we conclude our three-part series of posts about state laws and regulations that protect human and environmental health from asbestos. In Parts I and II, we discussed the interplay between federal and state laws and regulations that impact asbestos release and exposure.

More about Federal Delegation to States

In Part II, we talked about situations in which federal asbestos-protection regulatory authority may be delegated in whole or in part to the various states such as in the areas of air pollution and safe schools. Usually, if a state is approved to administer an area of federal regulatory activity that concerns asbestos protection, the state must either meet or exceed the level of federal protection.

Another area of federal delegation is in a variety of training and certification program creation to meet requirements for people who work in buildings with asbestos-containing materials or ACMs such as older tiles, linoleum, insulation, roofing and other construction materials. People who may be required to take such coursework include custodians, maintenance people, inspectors, contractors and others, especially those involved directly in remediation and removal of ACMs.

State-Specific Asbestos Regulation

State legislatures may enact a variety of asbestos-related laws, which often direct state government agencies to create regulations and enforce them. It is not unusual for local governments to do the same, such as cities or counties. Again, these may be in coordination with federal standards in some cases. These topics may include:

  • Training requirements for various kinds of workers
  • “Right-to-know laws” that require signs and other kinds of notices to warn people working, living or otherwise present in buildings with ACM
  • Standards and documentation requirements for protective equipment like respirators
  • Standards for emergency responses to asbestos releases like cleanup procedures
  • Documentation and recordkeeping requirements in a variety of settings involving asbestos
  • Enforcement, investigation and prosecution powers, including in some states civil fines or criminal charges and sanctions like fines or prison for asbestos-law violations
  • Licensing of asbestos remediation and removal companies
  • Approval and oversight of remediation projects
  • Asbestos disposal standards
  • And more

Our discussion of asbestos regulation is not exhaustive. There are other federal and state laws that impact asbestos issues. We have attempted to give an introduction and overview of the broad and complex area of federal-state interaction in this area of law.