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Frequently Asked Questions Concerning Verification of Asbestos Surveys Before Issuing Building Permits

1. Why do we need Senate Bill 509?

Each year, many asbestos removal jobs in Texas are done in violation of state and federal safety laws that require protection of construction workers and the public from exposure to dangerous levels of asbestos fibers.

Verifying that an asbestos survey was done prior to a renovation or demolition will educate building owners who are unaware of the requirements and make it harder for building owners and contractors to claim ignorance of the asbestos laws.

The Austin-American Statesman published a special report on widespread illegal asbestos removal projects on January 7, 2001, entitled “Death in the Air.” Copies of this article are available from Austin Texas Department of Health Asbestos Programs Branch (1-800-572-5548 or 512-834-6610) or on line at http://www.austin360.com/local/partners/aas/.

2. What kind of “permit” triggers the duty to check for an asbestos survey?

“Permit” means a license certificate, approval, registration, consent, permit or other form of authorization issued by a municipality for renovation or demolition of a public or commercial building, that a person is required by law, rule, regulation, order or ordinance to obtain to perform an action, or to initiate, continue or complete a project, for which the authorization is sought.

3. What is a public or commercial building?

There are many different types of public and commercial buildings. A general rule of thumb is that non-residential buildings and apartment complexes larger than four-plexes, are either public or commercial. The demolition or renovation of a single residence (four-plex or smaller) does not require an asbestos survey if the property continues to be used as a single residence after the demolition or renovation.

4. After what year can a building be built when no asbestos survey is required?

Asbestos surveys are required on all buildings regardless of the year of construction. For newer buildings, there is an alternative to a survey as listed in the before-mentioned cover letter.

5. How extensive does the survey verification have to be?

There needs to be “evidence acceptable to the municipality” that an asbestos survey, as required by state and federal laws, of all parts of the building affected by the planned renovation or demolition has been completed by a person that is appropriately licensed or trained to perform a survey.

6. Do the asbestos surveys need to be turned into the Texas Department of Health?

No. The asbestos survey needs to be kept at the project site and available to the Texas Department of Health upon request.

7. How do building owners or operators get these surveys?

The asbestos surveys need to be conducted by an individual licensed by the Texas Department of Health, if the work is done in a public building, or an EPA-accredited person, if work is done in a commercial building. The Texas Department of Health can provide a list of licensees in your area to contact.

8. How much do asbestos surveys cost?

The average survey costs from $250 to $500 for small projects and up to $5,000 to $10,000 for a 100,000-square-foot building.

9. Is asbestos still manufactured?

Yes. In 1989 the Environmental Protection Agency imposed a ban to phase out asbestos products; however, the United States Supreme Court overturned this ban in October 1991. Asbestos products such as floor tiles, adhesives (mastic) and roofing materials can still be purchased.

10. If asbestos is still manufactured, is it all right to install it in a public building?

No. House Bill 1927 signed by Governor Rick Perry on May 28, 2001, prohibits the installation of asbestos containing material in public buildings unless there is not other alternative material. To verify if a building material contains asbestos, you must obtain a Material Safety Data Sheet (MSDS) and make sure that the asbestos material is less than 1%.

11. Who do I call if I have any questions?

You may contact your Texas Department of Health regional office or telephone the Texas Department of Health’s Asbestos Program in Austin, Texas, at 1-800-572-5548 or 512-834-6610. You may also visit our website at www.tdh.state.tx.us/beh/asbestos.