Occupational (OSHA) and Environmental Hazards/less than 1% chrysotile asbestos

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our bldg.
our bldg.  
In our bldg, 12 units, 1600 sq feet of stucco was removed around our garage parking area.  on the ceiling and walls. no permit was obtained and we afterwards had the stucco tested on our own.
from a State licensed lab we were told it had less than 1% chrysotile asbestos.
It was sledge hammered off, large dust cloud and debris all week long. no covering, no warning signs and an open dumpster.  Can this pose a health threat to us and our neighbors?  we do know it was necessary to get a permit and testing should have been made.
of course we are upset over this, but I am confused as to how dangerous the stucco containing the less than 1% asbestos was.
We are having more sample test taken as well, since we only tested one spot.
thank you
C

Answer
Subject: less than 1% chrysotile asbestos

Question: In our bldg, 12 units, 1600 sq feet of stucco was removed around our garage parking area. On the ceiling and walls. No permit was obtained and we afterwards had the stucco tested on our own. From a State licensed lab we were told it had less than 1% chrysotile asbestos. It was sledge hammered off, large dust cloud and debris all week long. no covering, no warning signs and an open dumpster.  Can this pose a health threat to us and our neighbors?  we do know it was necessary to get a permit and testing should have been made. Of course we are upset over this, but I am confused as to how dangerous the stucco containing the less than 1% asbestos was. We are having more sample test taken as well, since we only tested one spot. thank you C

Answer: By the book you are in deep trouble without regard to the possible health hazard or level of asbestos. The codes require ALL removal of ANY asbestos containing material must be done in compliance with all standards and they are numerous. The fact that you were not aware of the asbestos will most likely not carry much weight. The response of the compliance folks will be "that since you should have known or suspected that asbestos was a possibility you should have tested". In your state enforcement has been very strict and I expect you are looking at a situation which may result in a citation and penalty if the situation comes to the attention CAL-OSHA. And if there was a large amount of dust someone will eventually ask the question - was asbestos involved. You are now faced with the question of which way to go to get yourself into the least amount of trouble. You could go to the compliance folks and explain the situation and ask for help is resolving any issues. Most likely this will result in a citation and fines but they may not be as severe as the other way you could get involved. You may find it appropriate to consult an attorney that does work in this area of law who is experienced with the local authorities and can better "guess" the reaction of disclosure.

Now as to how dangerous the exposure was to dust from you project . My experience over the years has been that health problems resulting from asbestos exposure have resulted from exposure to very high levels of the material and/or very long exposures measured in years. So would I be concerned for any persons involved in this project - No. However, there are those who believe otherwise and the rules which have decided any exposure could result in harm. And then the law firms on TV advertising how people exposed could have health issues and should share in the monetary compensation (minus the appropriate legal fees). So I think you need assistance from an experienced industrial hygienist, an attorney and perhaps an occupational physician. You have jumped into it with both feet and to my knowledge there is not an easy way out. So I may not be worried about this specific exposure but I would worry about the potential fallout and be taking some steps to minimize potential problems. I am sorry that I cannot give you a simple and/or precise answer but without much additional information I can respond in general terms only. If I may help with further questions you have, please feel free to ask. You might also check with the company that provides your workmen's compensation insurance as they may have health persons on staff that can help.

Michael Brown, CSP Retired

Occupational (OSHA) and Environmental Hazards

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Mike Brown CSP Retired

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I specialize in the professional management of occupational safety and health as well as workers` compensation to reduce losses and improve production and address related issues through a comprehensive approach by senior management using proven principals.I worked for over twenty (20) years in the management of occupational safety, health and workers` compensation and safety training (Retired from employment in 1996 due to a stroke, which prevented the extensive travel required).

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