Texas (TX) Asbestos Removal & Abatement Resources:

Texas takes the issue of asbestos very seriously as it recognizes asbestos fibers as a known carcinogen and a dangerous public health hazard. In order to minimize public exposure to airborne asbestos fibers, the Texas Asbestos Health Protection Rules were implemented in 1992. These rules establish the procedures and implementation plans to regulate activities that cause a disturbance to asbestos-containing materials (ACMs) in buildings of public access or occupancy (1).

The Texas Department of State Health Services has created an Asbestos Program whose mission is to "protect and promote the physical and environmental health of the people of Texas from asbestos." According to the program, asbestos can be found in over half the public buildings in the state; its presence in schools is of particular concern. Regional inspectors from the program are responsible for monitoring the removal of asbestos from buildings and for responding to community concerns about asbestos exposure. (2)

In the State of Texas, individuals who perform asbestos abatement or asbestos handling activities must be licensed or registered. Exceptions are made for asbestos-related activities at residences and apartment buildings with four or fewer dwelling units and industrial or manufacturing facilities where "access is controlled and limited principally to employees therein because of processes or functions dangerous to human health and safety." Federal buildings and military installations are also exempt. (1)

Rules and Regulations Regarding Asbestos Abatement

Building owners are required to inform all proper departments before beginning asbestos abatement or removal projects. Additionally, owners are responsible for warning, either verbally or in writing, all contractors or maintenance personnel of the presence of asbestos before starting any asbestos activities.

Before beginning any demolition or renovation project in a public building that contains friable asbestos, building owners are responsible for having the site surveyed by a qualified and state-licensed inspector, and a copy of the survey report must be produced upon request to the Texas Department of Health. The survey must include any asbestos-containing areas that may be disturbed by an adjacent demolition or renovation procedure. Any asbestos found in such a survey must be abated in accordance with state regulations. If a survey cannot be completed due to unsafe structural conditions, all materials must be presumed to contain asbestos and must be treated as such.

Training and Certification

Any individual who performs work related to asbestos in a public building must be licensed by the state. This work includes, but is not limited to repair, installation, renovation, cleaning, or any activity that may dislodge, break, abrade, cut, destroy, or disturb any asbestos material.

Individuals must update their license annually by submitting a training certificate, a written statement by a physician, and a licensing fee to the Texas Department of Health. The certificate of training must be obtained from a provider approved by the Department. This certificate must be obtained within the 12 months preceding the application for licensure.

The physician statement must be written following a physical examination of the applicant within the last 12 months, and the examination must follow the regulations set forth by Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA).

Fees for asbestos handling certification range from $30 for an asbestos worker to $500 for a contractor. In addition to having a designated person who has successfully completed a certified training course, contractors must also show proof of having a minimum $1 million asbestos abatement liability insurance policy (3).

Asbestos Handling Standards

Any licensed employee or agent who as part of their work intentionally disturbs, handles or otherwise works with ACMs or who engages in asbestos abatement or removal activities, are required to have an annual physical and a respirator fit-test. They must also be properly equipped and trained.

Each licensee shall keep complete records of each asbestos-related activity that takes place in a public building. These records should include all activities in which the licensee was involved and shall be kept for 30 years. Each licensee shall also keep records of any and all violations issued against him by the EPA, OSHA or any state organization. All records must be made available for inspection by the Department if requested.

Personal Protection and Survey Regulations

Respiratory protection must be worn by all licensees during abatement procedures. Each employee shall be responsible for establishing and maintaining a written respiratory protection program as required by OSHA regulations. Each employee must maintain a copy of the protection program at all project locations. Respirators must be properly fitted and worn during all asbestos abatement activities.

Asbestos abatement companies are responsible for maintaining, in safe working condition, enough respirators of the types and styles approved by the National Institute of Occupational Safety and Health to outfit the entire work team appropriately and safely. If a worker cannot achieve a tight respirator fit, regardless of reason, he or she shall not be permitted in the area of containment on an asbestos abatement project site.

Texas has specific regulations regarding asbestos-level testing. Baseline samples must be taken under normal building conditions, prior to any of the asbestos being disturbed. Then, during the abatement project, ambient samples must be collected every day until the completion of the project. These ambient samples must be collected at various locations in and around the work area. Other samples are taken when air is blown at high force at surfaces to determine whether loose asbestos fibers can become airborne. Final clearance will be achieved when no sample is reported to have more than 0.01 f/cc by a licensed and approved laboratory. Deviations from the protocols are acceptable only if public health is maintained and all deviations are submitted in writing to the Department (1).

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