A Brief History of Asbestos Regulation

According to the Detroit Free Press, by the numbers:

7,607: The number of notifications to MIOSHA about asbestos abatement projects in fiscal 2015. That’s double the 3,623 in fiscal 2010.

223: The number of licensed asbestos contractors in Michigan in fiscal 2015. That’s up from 158 in fiscal 2010.

39%: The percentage of active, licensed asbestos contractors inspected by MIOSHA in fiscal 2015. That’s down from 57% in 2010.

4: The numbers of asbestos inspectors employed by MIOSHA. That compares with three in fiscal 2010 and six in 2012 and 2013.

A brief history of the Michigan Occupational Safety and Health Administration (MIOSHA)

Gov. Bill Milliken signed the law that created MIOSHA in 1974 and it took effect in 1975.
MIOSHA is one of 28 state or U.S. territory agencies that enforce health and safety standards with a state plan approved by the federal OSHA.
Michigan leaders chose to have their own plan so that primary decisions are made in the state — by the governor, Legislature and program directors.
States with their own plans must have standards that are at least as effective as federal OSHA.
In fiscal 2015, MIOSHA spent $15.3 million in state funds and $10.6 million in federal funds.
What is asbestos?

Asbestos is the commercial name given to a group of six naturally occurring minerals that are resistant to heat and corrosion. They are not harmful if left undisturbed or properly handled. Before the 1970s, asbestos was widely used in buildings for fireproofing, thermal and acoustical insulation, condensation control and decoration. It has often been found in floor and ceiling tiles. Some key facts:

Asbestos is the No. 1 cause of occupational cancer in the U.S., accounting for 54% of all such cancers each year.
Asbestos fibers can be easily breathed into the lungs once they float into the air.
55 countries have banned asbestos; the U.S. and Canada are the only two industrial countries not to ban it.
More than 107,000 people die each year from asbestos-related diseases, including mesothelioma, a rare form of cancer.
While research continues, prevention is the only cure at present for mesothelioma and other asbestos-caused diseases.

1971: The Environmental Protection Agency declares asbestos a hazardous pollutant, followed by a series of bans on asbestos products used in construction.

1977: The Consumer Product Safety Commission bans the use of asbestos in artificial fireplace embers and wall patching compounds.

1989: EPA issues a final rule banning most asbestos-containing products. It is to take effect in phases, starting in 1990 through 1997.

1991: The 5th Circuit Court of Appeals overturns the EPA ban. The EPA declines to ask the U.S. Supreme Court to reverse the decision. As a result, asbestos-containing products can still be used in construction, which is why the EPA requires a thorough inspection for asbestos in most buildings, regardless of when constructed, before renovation or demolition.

Today: Health and liability issues have curtailed the use of asbestos in the U.S., while asbestos substitutes, alternative materials and new technology have also reduced its use. Domestic use of asbestos continues to decline from a record high of 803,000 tons in 1973 to an estimated 360 tons in 2015, a level not seen since the 1800s. Globally, asbestos-cement products are expected to be the leading market for asbestos. Asbestos products continue to be in demand in many regions of the world.

Asbestos abatement is performed commonly in older homes and historic structures. Asbestos abatement performed under strict conditions by a skilled contractor can be quite effective; thereby removing the health hazards associated with asbestos exposure, such as asbestosis, mesothelioma and lung cancer. If you or a friend have been diagnosed with asbestosis, lung cancer or mesothelioma, please call us at 1(800)995-6991 for a free consultation.

Sources: MIOSHA, EPA, OSHA, the U.S. Geological Survey, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Asbestos Disease Awareness Organization

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