October 30, 2011

Asbestos is a widely used

Asbestos is a widely used material for building construction, but its microscopic fibers are hazardous to human health. Asbestos exposure has been associated with several diseases of the lungs, including a rare form of lung cancer. Since 1992, the Texas Department of Health has legally regulated asbestos-containing materials, and their removal.

Scope of laws

The Texas asbestos laws apply to "all buildings which are subject to public occupancy, or to which the general public has access," as well as to all individuals involved in work that may disturb or remove asbestos-containing building material (ACBM).

Prior notification by building owners

Building proprietors must inform, in writing or documented oral communication, anyone performing maintenance or demolition work of the presence and location of asbestos-containing materials before starting any asbestos-related building work.

Licensing requirements

Individuals engaged in asbestos-related work must be officially licensed by the state. The law also requires any licensed worker to keep his license on his person while performing asbestos-related work, and to display it on request to employers or officials from the Texas State Department of Health.

Exclusion for private residences and apartment buildings

Private residences and apartment buildings with four or fewer units are excluded from state asbestos rules.

Right of inspection and investigation

The Texas Department of Health retains the right to inspect or investigate any individual working on asbestos-abatement projects. State inspectors are not required to give advance notice or get the permission of workers at an asbestos site.

Abatement practices and procedures

Certain practices are established for asbestos-abatement work. Asbestos-contaminated areas must be separated by "impermeable barriers" and all openings to adjacent areas be sealed. Movable objects must be removed to a separate area. A sealed, secure worker decontamination room, "consisting of a clean room, shower room, and equipment room" is to be constructed. Prior to being removed from the site, extracted ACBM must be wetted and fully encapsulated to prevent any possible escape of asbestos fibers..