Naturally Occurring Asbestos
The California Air Resources Board (CARB) and United States Environmental Protection Agency (U.S. EPA) identified asbestos [asbestiform varieties of serpentine (chrysotile), riebeckite (crocidolite),cummingtonite-grunerite (amosite), tremolite, actinolite, and anthophyllite] as a toxic air contaminant (TAC) and hazardous air pollutant, respectively. CARB identified asbestos as a TAC in 1986.
Subsequently, CARB adopted two Airborne Toxic Control Measures (ATCM) to address some of the health concerns associated with exposure to asbestos:
- ATCM for Surfacing Applications (adopted in 1990)
- ATCM for Construction, Grading, Quarrying, and Surface Mining Operations (adopted in 2001)
The two asbestos regulations address minimizing the placement of asbestos-containing materials on unpaved surfaces and requiring work practices to minimize asbestos emissions from such activities where naturally-occurring asbestos is found or is likely to be found. The ATCMs were intended to minimize the release of asbestos fibers during activities involving the handling of asbestos.
The U.S. EPA is requires specific work practices to control the release of asbestos fibers relating to a renovation and/or demolition activity. The U.S. EPA delegates enforcement authority to state and local agencies for renovation and/or demolition activities that involve the handling of asbestos. CARB and the states 35 local air districts are delegated the authority to enforce the U.S. EPA's National Emission Standards for Hazardous Air Pollutants regulations for asbestos.
Exposure to asbestos fibers increases the risk of a person developing health ailments which includes lung disease. Major health effects include lung cancer, mesothelioma (a rare cancer of the thin membranes lining the lungs, chest and abdominal cavity), and asbestosis (a serious, non-cancerous lung disease which causes scarring of the lungs). Sources of asbestos emissions include: unpaved roads or driveways surfaced with ultramafic rock, construction activities in ultramafic rock deposits, or rock quarrying activities where ultramafic rock is present.Exposure to asbestos emissions presents a significant risk to human health on a statewide and local level.
For more information about the health of effects of exposure to asbestos, see the health evaluation performed by our sister agency, the California Office of Environmental Health Hazard Assessment.