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ED 223 461 

SE 039 709 





Asbestos in Schools: A Dilemma* 

General Accounting Office, Washington, D,C. 


Aug 82 


U. S, General Accounting Office, Document Handling 
and Information Services Facility, P. 0. Box 6015, 
Gaithersburg, MD 20760 (first five copies free; 
additional copies, bound $3.25, unbound $1.00; 25% 
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MF01/PC02 Plus Postage. 

*Asbestos; Elementary Secondary Education; *F.ederal 
Legislation; *Federal Programs; Occupational Safety 
and Health; *Program Descriptions; Program 
Effectiveness; *School Safety; *State Programs 
*Asbestos School Hazard -Detect ion and Control Act; 

Hazara o u s^MalreTri ai-s- 

Asbestos, a mineral known to cause cancer in humans, 
an unknown number of schools where it may be hazardous 
of students and employees. Although the Federal 
s programs designed to address the asbestos situation, 
terminedin what specific circumstances asbestos is a 
fore, State and local school bfficials currently face a 
rning what to do when they find asbestos in their 
first chapter of this docximent discusses the nature and 
tos^ health hazards. Federal action to address asbestos 
nd a summary of. Federal efforts to reduce asbestos in 
second4chaptDr discusses Environmental Protection Agency 

to address asbestos in schools, focusing on EPA^s 
istance program (indicated to be a limited success), 
and local abatement responses, and EPA inspection and 
rules. The third chapter considers the limited impact of 
School Hazard Detection and Control Act of 1980, 
at no loans/grants are available for asbestos detection 
that asbestos hazard criteria are still lacking, and 
ports and records provide limited information, 
elude characteristics, of State programs to address 
chools and state asbestos program summaries. 

* Reproductions supplied by EDRS are the best that can be made * 

* from the original document. * 





General Accounting Office 

Asbestos In Schools: 
A Dilemma 



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Many of the Nation's schools are thougnt to 
contain asbestos, a mineral known to cause 
cancer in humans. Federal programs have 
imposed asbestos inspection and record- 
keeping requirements on States and local 
education agencies and have encouraged 
— fi€>ntf^Lactto ns. These programs , how- 
ever, have not resolved the diiemma'Siihool ■ 

officials face in trying to distinguish be- 
' tween hazardous situations needing to be 
p corrected and those presenting relatively 
insignificant risks* 

Without Federal criteria, State and local 
. officials' decisions on asbestos in their 
schools varied from no action in one hcality 
to total asbestos removal in another. As a 
result, there is no assurance that school 
occupants are being adequately protected 
or that abatement actions being taken are ' • ^ 


AUGUST 31, 1982 

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The Honorable James J. ,Florio 

Chairman, Subcommittee on Commerce, 

Transportation and Tourism 
Committee on Energy and Commerce 
[ House of Representatives 

The Honorable George Miller 

Chairman, Subcommittee on Labor Standards 

Committee on Education and Labor 

House of Representatives 

As requested in your December 14, 1981, letter, we have re- 
viewed the progress of Federal efforts to reduce asbestos hazards 
in schools. ^ 

"A's-^ rrang ed--wit h^y^our_„oXfice^Sj_^ ublicly release 

its contents earlier, we will make this report avai-'l'abie-'to -other 
interested parties 10 days a^er the issue date. 

At? your request, we did not obtain written agency comments. 
The matters covered in this report, however, were discussed with 
agency officials and -their commeats are incorporated where 
appropriate. /# j ' « 

, Henry Eschwege 






Asbestos, a mineral known to cause cancer in 
humanSf is present in an unknown number of schools 
where it may be hazardous to the health of school- 
children and employees. Although the Federal 
Government has programs desi^gned to address the 
asbestos situation, it has not determined in what 
specific circumstances asbestos is a hazard. 
Therefore, State arid local school officials cur- 
rently face a dilemnia concerning what to do when 
they find asbestos in their schools. According 
to the Environmental, Protection Agency (TPA) , 
not all asbestos conditions in schools warrant 
action and it is validating criteria to determine 
which ones do. 

EPA initiated a technical assistance program in 
1979 to help State and school officials voluntar- 
ily identify and correct asbestos hazards. In 
May 1982 it issued a rule, under the Toxic Sub- 
stances Control Act, requiring that schools be 
inspected for asbestos and that employees and 

parent- 1 eal:: h^x-gro up s-^lDe^notrfied-o f— a sbe s bo s 

presence . 

Because the Congress' found that no systematic 
program existed for identifying hazardous con- 
ditions in schools or for remedying those con- 
ditions^ it enacted the Asbestos School Hazard 
Detection and Gontro'l Act of 1980. The Department 
of , Education was charged with administering this 
act, which was to provide j^inancial assistance to 
detect and abate asbestos, impose recordkeeping 
and reporting requirements on the States, and 
establish an informational progr'am for controlling 
asbestos in schools. ^Under the jlnformaticpal^pro- 
gram. Education was to establish procedures for 
detecting and controlling asbestos, as well as to 
review and revise EPA's guidelines on when 
asbestos is hazardous. 

The Chairmen, Subcommittee on Commerce, Trans- 
portation and Tourism, sHous^e Committee on Energy 
and Commerce, and Subcommittee on Labor Standards, 
House Committee on Education and Labor, alsked GAO 
to assess i 

AUGUST 31,1982 

—the impact of EPA's technical assistance pro- 
gram in stimulating States and school dis- 
tricts to correct asbestos problems; 

— other -^actions EPA has taken or could have 
taken to protect schoolchildren from asbes- 
tos; and 

--compliance by the States, EPA, and Educa- 
tion with the Asbestos School Hazard 
Detection and Control Act. (See pp. 1 to 6.) 


EPA' s -technical assistance program had some 
impact in stimulating voluntary inspectiojis and 
abatement activity. However, it was not suc- 
cessful in getting all schools to inspect for 
asbestos.. GAO found that about 21 percent of 
the public schooll in 11 States had not been 
inspfected^. These results are somewhat simi- 
lar to an EPA survey indicating that 30 per- 
cent of the Nation's schools had not been 
• inspected — approximately 33,000 public and 
private schools. (See pp. 7 to 12,.) 

Moreover/ the quality of inspections that were 
— don^e^'S-questionable-,Jia.sM__oiL.EPA_^^ • 
Many inspections were restricted to certalTi 
areas, such as those used by students, or , fea- 
tures such as piping. In other cases, school 
officials relied on construction records rather 
than visual inspections and test sample analysis. 
The large number of schools still uninspected 
contributed to EPA's decision to require school 
inspections and employee and parent-teacher 
notification by June 1983. (See pp. 13 and 16 
^ to 18. ) ^ . 


Although EPA requires school officials to iden- 
"^.tify asbestos in schools, it has not determined 
when asbestos is-hazardous enough ttf warrant 
abatement. EPA maintains that some circumstan- 
ces warrant abatement., but pthers do not. . 
Although EPA provides some guidance on various 
factors to consider when making abatement deci- 
sions, it'^ found that these factors were unreli- 
able^when tested. EPA expects to validate a 
more reliable indicator by November 1982 but, 
because oJ^. tKe various review idyels involved, 

has no target date for incorporating it into 
guidance or plans to require its use. Con- 
sequentlyr State :arid local officials must make 
abatement decisions without specific EPA 
criteria on when asbestos^ conditions warrant 
action. (See pp. 3, 10, n, and^lS.) 


Without specific criteria. State and local 
policies on asbestos abatement ranged from 
total removal to no a'ction. For example, the 
Houston Independent' School District has found 
asbestos in 115 of its 232 schools but has-, 
decided to take no abatement aQtipn juntil EPA 
de,termines under what circumstances asbestos 
is considered hazardous, in contrast, the 
State of Florida requires that public schools 
remove all friable (readily crumbled) asbestos 
materials, except where impractical. 

Other school districts took a more flexible 
approach to abatement. For example, the State 
of Massachusetts and the San Diego Unified 
School District developed separate numerical 
systems for measuring potential asbestos 
hazards and assessing which abatement method 
was appropriate for each school. EPA doubts, 
the systems' reliability because many of the' 
factors used in these systems are the same ones 
EPA found unreliable in its tests. 

Still other school districts responded^to 

public pressure.^ For example, both Pittsburgh 
and Philadelphia school districts abated asbes- 
tos conditions they did not consider hazardous 
beca^use of niedia and parental pressure. ^ 

These cases^ indicate that there is no assurance 
that school occupants are being adequately 
protected or fch^at abatement actions being taken- 
are necessary. (See pp. 13 to 15.) 


Overall, the Asbestos Schoo"^ Hazard Detection* 
and Control Act of 1980 has had little impact. 
The g^ant and loan program for detecting and 
abating asbestos in schools was not funded. 
Although Education requested" funds , the Office 
of. Management and Budget rejected the request 
because of other budget priorities. Without 


funding, Education relegated the program to 
a low priority. (See pp. 20 and 21.) 

Education provided procedures for detecting and 
correcting asbestos. However , as required by 
the act, Education did not complete its revi- 
sion of EPA's guidelines for determining when 
asbestos in schools is hazardous and needs 
abatement. Consequently, as was the case with 
EPA, Education did not resolve the dilemma 
facing school officials: When should asbestos 
be abated irj their schools? (See pp. 21 to 24.) 

Additionally, State reports and records requir- 
ed by the act provided little additional infor*- 
mation on the extent of asbestos in schools. 
For the 11 States that GAO reviewed, only 6 of 
22 required reports were submitted. Also, the 
requirement that States maintain records bn as- 
bestos activities was based on the under- 
standing that EPA would issue its rule requir- 
i,ng inspection and recordkeeping at the local 
level to coincide with the issuance' of Educa- 
tion's recordkeeping procedures at the State 
level. However, because EPA did not issue its 
•rule until 16 months after Education's, local 
inspections were voluntary and did not always 
conform to EPA's recomijiended ^procedures. 
Therefore, State records were incomplete be- 
cause they were Tbased on limited inspections 
of questionable quality, as. described under 
the technical assistance program. (See pp. 24- 
to 27.) ' ^ 

EPA has since issued its final regulations 
requiring local education agencies to begin 
inspecting schools, which would provide ^ 
the data base for State recordkeeping as 
envisioned by the act. (See pp. 27 and 28.) 

Because EPA expects to verify a new method of 
assessing asbestos exposure by November 1982 and 
issue guidance later, GAO has. ho recommendations 
at this time.' (See pp. 18, 19, 27, and 28.) 

As requested by the chairmen, GAO did not 
obtain written comments on bl\is report. How- 
ever, GAO did discuss the matters in the report 
with agency officials and, where appropriate, 
included their views; (See p. 6.) 

C o n t e n t s 





Nature and uses of asbestos 
Health hazards 
Federal action to address 

asbestos in schools * 
Objectives, scope,, and methodology 


EPA's technical assistance program: 
a limited success 
f ' Varied State and local abatement 

EPA issues inspection and notification 


Objectives o'f the act 
No loans or grants are availabre for 

asbestos detection and control 
Asbestos hazard criteria -still lacking 
State reports and records provide 

limited information 


I Characteristics of State programs to 

address asbestos in schools 

II State asbestos program summaries 


EPA Environmental Protection Agency 

GAO Genferal Accounting Office ' 

TAP technical assistance program 

TSCA - Toxic Substances Control Act 


^ ^ ^ 

INTRODUCTION ' ... • ' * 

Asbestos is a term used to describe vari'ous types of fibrous 
minerals. Asbestos-containing materials were frequently sprayed . 
on walls and ceilings to fireproof, insulate, soundj?i?'oof , and 
decorate schools built or renovated between 1946 and'1972. 
Research has proven' that asbestos causes cancer^ . ^Since the mid-* 
1970's, public concern has^ arisen that asbestos in sjCLhools could 
pose a health hazard, particularly for schoolchildren. The 
Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the Department of Edu- 
cation are the primary Federal agencies responsible for addressing 
the asbestos-in-schools situation. 


Asbestos is the generic name for a group of naturally occur-v 
ring minerals which separate into fibers > The U.S. Bureau of 
Mines estimates that U,S. asbestos use in the 1970 's ranged from 
'a high of 883,000 tons in 1973 to a low of 592,000 tons in 1979, 
the latest year for which data was available. Most of the asbes- 
tos fiber used in the United States is imported frX)m' Canada. .A 
small amount is also imported from South Africa. 

Asbestos is valued for its fireproof ing , insulating, and 
acoustic^al properties and tensile strengths From 70 to 80 per- 
cent of the asbestos used in the United States is for such con- 
struction products as cement;, pipe^nd sheeting, flooring and 
roofing materials, and thermal and electrical insulation. 
Asbestos-containing materials were also used extensively in 
buMdings constructed between 1946 and 1972. These materials 
were usually sprayed on but were also troweled on overhead sur- 
faces, steel beams, ceilings, and vails. Asbestos is also found 
in pipe and boiler insulation. Other users include the transpor- 
tation and appliance industries. . . , 


In 1979 the World Health Organization's International Agency 
for Research on Cancer listed asbestos as 1 of 18 chemicals, known 
to cause cancer in humans. According to EPA, extensive epidemi- 
ologic evidence demonstrates that inhaling asbestos can lead to 
serious, irreversible, and often fatal diseases such as pleural 
and peritoneal mesothelioma, V lung cancer, and asbestosis. 2/ 
Asbestos-related diseases may not appear until 15 to 40 years 
after first exposure. 

l./Rare cancers of the. linings of the lung and abdominal' cavities. 

2/h progressive lung disease characterized by fibrosis or scarring 
of the lung tissue. 


1 . . 

^. ^.Epidemiologic studies have generally involved \/^arious types 
of asbestbs workers who had long-term exposure tQ high asbestos 
concentrations. In addition', however, EPA has concluded &hat 
adverse health effects of nonoccupational exposure to asbestos 
have been .amply demonstrated. Some persons whose only known expo- 
sure to asbestos has been from living in the same households as 
asbestos workers .oc in the neighborhoods of asbestos mines, .»ifiills, 
and processing fac.ilities have developed mesothelioma and signs 
of,vasbestosis . • • • - 

Several studies have also shown or indicated a dose-reip^nse 
relationship between asbestos exposure and asbestosis, lung 
cancer , ^and mesothelioma. This mearfs that an increase in asbes- 
taa exposure increases the risk of disease. No safe lev.el, or 
"threshold," bf^sbestos exposure has' been demonstrated. 

Significant disagreement extsts regarding the health hazards 
presented by asbestos in schools. /For example, Johns-Manville, a 
producer of asbestos fiber and asbestos-containing' products , stated 
in 1979 that the workplace experience is of limited relevance to 
the school situation and that the presence of asbestos-containing 
ceiling mat;erials in schools does not present an unreasonable risk 
of injury to health or the environment. In contrast, the Environ- 
mental Defense Fund, a private nonprofit environmental organiza- 
tion, stated ifi 1978^ that, because of evidence demonstrating a 
clear association between asbestos and various forms of cancer, 
asbestos in schools may Increase cancer rates among schoolchildren 
and other building users and does pose an unreasonably risk of 
injury. Each group cited asbestos studies, none of which addressed 
the health effects of a^sbestos in schools to support its 'position. . 

To estimate the risk presen*led by low-level asbestos exposure 
ini schools, EPA applied a lineai; dose^response curve to the re- 
sults of a^study of asbestos insulati'on workers. In^ September 1980 
in proposed rulemaking onvHsb»estos in schools, EPA concluded that 
•^in a worst-case situation between 1-00 and 6,800 premature cancer 
deaths will resalt from exposure to prevailing asbestos levels in 
schools. EPA developed a "most reasonable" estimate of 1,100 pre- 
mature deaths. Reviewers criticized several aspects of EPA's 
analysis, contending that it overstates the risk presented by 
asbestos in schools. 

I, Although l^sbestos is present in many schools, EPA does not 
consider all conditions to' be equally hazardous. In some cases 
exposure levels may be significant, while in others exposure 
levels and resulting health risks are relatively minor. 


EPA and Education are the agencies primarily responsible for 
Federal actions concerning asbestos in schools. EPA has acted 
under the Clean Air Act and the Toxic Substances Control Act 
(TSCA)* Education administers the Asbestos School Hazard Detection 
and Control Act. 

2 -11 

Clean Air Act 


The Clean Air Act is designed to protect and enhance the 
quality of the Nation's air. Section 112 of the act authorizes 
EPA to regulate emissions of hazardous air pollutants—those which 
in EPA's judgment, contribute to air pollution which may reasonably 
be anticipated to result in an increase in mortality or an increase 
in serious irreversible, or incapacitating reversible, illness. 
EPA determined that asbestos was a hazardous air pollutant, and . 
in 1973 it banned ^the spraying of -asbestos-containing insulation • 
in buildings. In 1978 EPA extended the ban to all uses of spray- 
on asbestos on buildings, structures, beams, ceilings, walls, 
pipes, and conduits. E^'A also mandated work practices to be 
followed when buildings containing asbestos material were deraol- 
ished or renovated, to minimize the release of asbestos fibers 
into the atmosphere.' 


To xic Substances Control Act 

In 1976 the Congress enacted TSCA giving EPA broad authority 
to control chemical substances to protect the public health and 
environment against unreasonable risks. -TSCA was intended to fill 
gaps left by other legislation and allows EPA t^o regulate a chem-i- 
cal only when adequate protection cannot be achieved otherwise. 
After reviewing the authority available to the Occupational Safety 
and Health Adminis^tration, the Consumer Product Safety Commission, 
and Education, EPA determined that action by those agencies would 
not sufficiently reduce the "risks of asbestos in schools. Although 
the Occupational Safety and HealtK Administration has established 
asbestos standards for the workplace, it does not have direct 
jurisdiction to enforce the standards in public schools and private 
nonprofit schools because they are not "businesses afrecting 
commerce" as defined in its authorizing legislation. .Requirements 
which the Consumer Product Safety Conmission could mpose would 
necessitate identifying specific manufacturers, distributors, or 
retailers of asbestos products in schools. EPA decided. that such 
an identification would be prohibitively difficult. EPA also 
decided that Education could not take adequate- action' to reduce 
the risks of asbestos in schools because it has no authority to 
require that schools be inspected. EPA, therefore, determined 
that regulation under TSCA was_^needed to reduce the risks of asbes- 
tos in schools. ' * "• 

In March 1979 EPA launched a technical assistance prOgxam 
(TAP) to encourage voluntary identification and correctibn of 
asbestos hazards in schools. EPA provided advice and infonf.ation 
on inspection procedures,' sampling, and abatement methods. In 
Ma.y 1982 EPA issued a regulation requiring that schools be inspec- 
ted and that employees and parent-teacher associations be notified 
' if asbestos is found. 

■ o 12 
ERIC ' 3 


Asbef.tos School Hazard Detection 
and Contiol Act 

Despite EPA's efforts, the Congress found in 1980^ that 

— the presence of friable or easily damaged asbestos in 
school buildings creates an unwarranted hazard to the 
health of schoolchildren and employees and 

— no systematic program exists for identifying or remedying 
hazardous conditions in schools'. 

Therefore, .the Congress enacted the Asbestos School Hazard Detec- 
tion and Control Act of 1980. It was intended to provide financial 
assistance to detect and abate asbestos hazards and to establish 
a program for controlling asbestos in schools. 


In Pecember 1981 the Chairmen, Subcommittee on Labor Stand- 
ards, Hou.-. Committee on Education and Labor, and Subcommittee on 
commerce. Transportation and Tourism, Hoilse Committee on Energy 
and Commerce, asked us to review the progress of Federal efforts 
to reduce asbestos in schools. They asked us to assess 

— the-t impact of EPA's TAP in stimulating State and local 
action to correct asbestos problems in schools;. 

— other actions EPA has taken or'^couid have taken to protect 
schoolchildren from asbestos; and 

--compliance by the States ^ EPA, and Education >^ith the 
* Asbestos School Hazard Detection and Control Act. 

To meet these objectives, we studied TSCA and the Asbestos 
School Hazard Detection' and Control Act and their legislative We also reviewed regulations, proposed regulations, 
and guidelines issued by EPA and Education under these acts and 
congressional hearings and technical documents on asbestos. 

We reviewed EPA files and interviewed EPA officials involved 
in asbe'stos-^relate'd matters to develop data on EPA's rulemaking 
activities and the operation of TAP.= 

We interviewed Education officials to determine the extent 
•to which the Asbestos School Hazard Detection and Control Act had 
been implemented. We also searched Education files for documen- 
tation of its actionsjtf^nd State compliance with the act. 


We interviewed representatives of the Occupational Safety 
and Health Administration, the Consumer Product Safety Commission, 
the Department of Justice, the National Cancer Institute, the 
Asbestos Information Association . of North America, and the Environ- 
mental Defense Fund to discuss asbestos hazards in schools and 
ways of dealing with such hazards. 

To obhain further information on State and local response to 
the Asbestos School Hazard Detection and Control Act and EPA*s 
TAP, we reviewed the actions taken in 10 States and the District 
of Columbia. The States were selected because they have the larg- 
est school-age populations in the Nation, based on 1978 data from 
the Bureau of the Census. The District of Columbia was included 
at the request of the subcommittee. V Combined, the 11 States 
we reviewed had over half the Nation's school-age population. 
We visited each of these States to interview officials involved 
with asbestos hazards in schools and to review State files. 

The 11 selected States are in seven different EPA regions — 
I (Boston), II (New York), III (Philadelphia), IV (Atlanta), 
V (Chicago), VI (Dallas), and IX (San Franci^sco) . We visited each 
of the seven regional offices before visiting the States to discuss 
their approaches to the school asbestos program and to 
overview of the asbestos programs in each State under the regional 
office's jurisdiction, 

,In 5 of the 11 States, summary data was not available to show 
how many schpols had been inspected, how many had asbestos, or 
how many had undergone corrective action. In these States, we 
attempted to obtain this information from the States' most populous 
school districts; and, in most cases, it was available. When it 
was not available kt the district level, we did not attempt to 
contact individual schools because of the time and resources that 
would have been required. 

Through visits and telephone calls, we interviewed numerous 
school district officials to discuss the criteria they used to 
make abatement decisions. We did not use any scientific basis 
to select these school districts. 

1/To make subsequent discussions easier, we will refer to the 
^ District of Columbia as a State, bringing the total of States 
reviewed to 11. The other States are California, Florida, 
Illinois, Massachusetts, Michigan, New Jersey, New York, Ohio, 
Pennsylvania, and Texas. 

Our review was conducted primarily from December 1981 through 
April 1982. It was perforraed in accordance with our current stand- 
ards for audit of governr»iental organizations/ programs/ activities, 
and functions. 

As requested by the chairmen, we did not obtain written com- 
ments on this report. However, we did discuss the report with 
agency officials and, where appropriate, included their views* 



EPA's technical assistance program, established to identify 
and correct asbestos hazards in schools, stimulated some State 
and local activity. However, the program's effectiveness has been 
limited by its voluntary nature and its lack of criteria defining 
when asbestos is hazardous and what type of abatement 1/ is 
needed. As a result, many schools have not been inspected and the 
quality of many inspections made is questionable. When asbestos 
was founds different criteria were used to determine whether 
abatement was necessary. 

Although EPA recently issued a rule requiring school offi- 
cials to inspect for asbestos and notify employees and parent- 
teacher groups if any is found, it does not include criteria 
detailing when asbestos is hazardous and must be abated. Without 
this criteria, there is no assurance that school occupants are 
being adequately protected or that abatement actions being taken 
are .necessary. ,However, EPA expects to verify a new method of 
assessing asbestos exposure by November 1982 and issue guidance 
later . 


In 1979 EPA responded to concerns about asbestos in schools 
by implementing TAP. TAP was intended to provide information and 
advice to State and school officials faced with asbestos in schools 
and to encourage asbestos inspections and abatement. It had some 
success in both areas^ 

Under TAP, EPA made known the potential hazards of asbestos 
in schools. It also recommended inspection, sampling, and abate- 
ment procedures. The State and school officials that we contacted 
were aware of potential asbestos hazards and had received EPA's 
guidance or information. TAP, however, did not include defini- 
tive criteria -for determining when asbestos found during an in- 
spection warrants corrective action or for determining the type 
of action that should be takenc 

TAP did stimulate some inspection and abatement activity, 
even though it placed absolutely no requirements on States or 
school districts. It is impossible to quantify the impact of TAP, 
however, because complete, accurate data on inspections and 

VAbatement includes removing, encapsulating (generally spraying on 
a sealant), and enclosing (installing barrier) asbestos and 
avoiding areas or activities which disturb the asbestos. 


abatement are unavailable and because actions that have been 
taken were not always motivated by TAP. 

The States have taken different approaches to identifying and 
abating asbestos in schools. Five of /the 11 States that we re- 
viewed have taken, or are taking, action to achieve the inspection 
of all their public schools. In the remaining six States, per- 
forming inspections is strictly a local decision. The States 
generally leave asbestos abatemerjt decisions to school district 
or individual school officials. State and school officials have 
used various criteria in their decisionmaking. 

Inspections performed to date havecnot always conformed with 
EPA's guidance on appropriate methods of inspection and analysis; 
and, in some cases, there is no assurance that all asbestos was 
identified. School districts in two States are now finding that . ^ 
asbestos was overlooked during previous inspections. 

^ Technical assistance provided 

TAP has provided and continues to provide information to State 
and local officials. One of the major components of EPA's TAP was 
a set of guidance documents which EPA began distributing in March 
1979 to State governors. State asbestos prograra coordinators, and 
approximately 15,000 school districts. Over^l50,000 copies of the 
documents have been distributed. The guidance docuraents contain 
background information on asbestos in buildings; regulatory stand- 
ards regarding abatement work; and procedures for inspections, 
sampling, and abatement. The guidance recommends the following 
^ steps (1) visually inspect the buildings for friable material 
(readily .crumbled) which might contain asbestos^ (2) take bulk 
samples of suspect material, (3) have the bulk samples analyzed, 
(4) if asbestos is present, assess exposure level to determine the 
extent of potential hazards, and (5) abate if necessary. EPA 
also distributed a 12-minute guidance film and videotape to its 
regional offices and some States and issued a question-and-answer 
booklet about asbestos and TAP. 

EPA conducted programs to improve testing and sampling tech- 
niques as well as to provide methods of reducing asbestos exposure. 
EPA has worked with asbestos analytical laboratories to help im^ 
prove the quality of testing. According to the Director, EPA's 
Exposure Evaluation Division, EPA*s efforts increased testing 
accuracy from 90 percent disagreement among laboratories regarding 
the presence or absence of asbestos in a sample to agreement among 
laboratories regarding the actual content of asbestos. EPA also 
developed representative sampling procedures to assure that as- 
bestos samples reflect the asbestos level in an entire area and 
establishec two toll-free telephone numbers to provide sampling 
information and assistance. In addition, EPA provided guidance 
_..on some inexpensive maintenance practices for reducing asbestos 
exposure/ such as wet mopping instead of sweeping floors, and is 
experimenting with filter systems to remove asbestos residues 
♦^remaining in a room after abatement. 


At each EPA regional office we visited , a regional asbestos 
coordinator and a technical advisor are implementing the program. 
The technical advisors were provided through an EPA grant to the 
American Association of Retired Persons. Most EPA regions we 
visited have one fall-time-equivalent staff in this capacity. 

Regional activities have consisted of conducting workshops, 
performing inspections, and responding to inquiries. The workshops 
covered health hazards of asbestos exposure, procedures for iden- 
tifying hazards, abatement options , and assistance available from 
EPA. Inspections have generally been done on request.. 

Hazard criteria incomplete 

Despite the technical assistance, EPA provides only limited 
guidance on a key issue — when is asbestos hazardous enough to war- 
rant abatement . Earlier efforts to develop suca guidance hav.e 
been unsuccessful because EPA lacked the necessafcy scientific 
measurement which correlated with exposure. Howe^^er , recent re- 
search has yielded what EPA believes to be a promising measure 
which,, when validated, could provide such definitive criteria. 

Although EPA provided information on the advantages and 
appropriateness of different abatement methods, it did not pro- \ 
vide specific decisionmaking criteria in its March 1979 guidance 
documents. EPA listed eight factors to consider when assessing 
asbestos exposure in schools. These included (1) condition of 
material, (2) water damage, (3) exposed surface area, (4) accessi- 
bility, (5) activity and movement, (6) air plenum or direct air 
stroam, (7) friability, and (8) asbestos content. 

EPA later distributed a draft scoring system using a mathe- 
matical formula which could .be used as an aid in assessing exposure 
and in deciding what abatement method to use. In the scoring sys- 
tem, each of the eight factors listed in the TAP guidance documents 
was assigned a score corresponding to the extent that factor 
applied in a given school area. A total exposure score was pro- 
duced by summing factors 1 through 6 and multiplying that sum by 
factors 7 and 8. As the score increased, it was assumed that the 
airborne asbestos concentration increased. The exposure score was 
then applied to the ^corrective action scale, which suggested the 
appropriate- corrective action. 

Although the scale provide broad numerical ranges for abate- 
ment and was to be used only as guidance, EPA found the system un- 
reliable in testing. EPA removed the corrective action scale and 
recommended that school officials, with the help of trained per- 
sonnel, consider only the eight factors when determining appro- 
priate abatement. However, a subsequent study revealed that these 
factors were also unreliable because they did not correlate with 
airborne asbestos levels. 


In this same study, a new factor termed " teleasabil ity" has 
shown promise. It reiates to the apparent availability of releas- 
able fibers from bulk materials and is based on the material's 
microscopic characteristics. The study found that r eleasabil i ty 
ratings given to bulk samples from a site correlated to the air- 
borne asbestos levels at that site. 

According to the Director of EPA's Exposure Evaluation 
Division, EPA expects to validate the reliability of this factor 
by November 1982 and to incorporate this information into guidance 
material later. According to the Director, many levels of review 
are still involved, the factor must be refined so that other 
laboratories can reproduce it, and understandable gui-^ance must 
^e developed before the schools can receive this information. 

Although the eight factors of TAP remain as the present gui- 
dance, EPA urges local education agencies to contact their area's 
EPA regional asbestos coordinators when assistance is needed 
regarding an appropriate source of action for asbestos in their 
schools. EPA^of f icials concede that the factors are unreliable 
and that contacting coordinators will not result in uniform 
responses because each asbestos coordinator will use subjective 
judgment in advising l:he_, need for abatement. Until EPA can verify 
the new factor:,- however, TAP is the only guiaarice available. 

Stdte activities i^nitiated before TAP 

None of the 11 States that we reviewed initiated its 
asbestos-in-schools activities because of TAP. Ar, s'lovn ir 
appendix I, all the States except Illinois began theic prccrarvs 
before TAP was instituted in 1979 . State officialr^ repeatedly 
cited publicity about .asbestos problems as the reason they 
began their program.^ 

Officials in ail the States that we reviewed, except Massachu- 
setts and New York, said that TAP either increased their activities 
or caused them to .accelerate their program. For example, Illinois 
and Michigan provided asbestos workshops as a resjlt of TAP. New. 
Jersey increased its inspection activity because TAP made school 
officials aware of potential hazards and they requested inspec- 
tions. However, the Massachusetts and New York programs were al- 
rea!3y in place, and TAP did not spur any additional activity. 

' Officials in 10 States agreed that EPA's guidance documents 
were helpful, although some officials considered them more helpful 
than others. In the rem^iining State, the documents were issued 
too late to be very useful. 

Appendixes I and II describe State asbestos-in~school activ- 
ities in each of the 11 Stat*es included in our review. 


TAP unsuccessful in getting 
all schools inspected 

EPA has publicly reported that TAP was unsuccessful in getting 
all schools to participate. Because no national inspection data 
is available, we obtained inspection statistics from 11 States. 
We found that about 79 percent of the 21,594 public schools 
.included in our analysis were inspected. 

•EPA estimates' that 30 percent of the schools, or 33,000 public 
and private schools nationwide, were not inspected as of August 
1981. EPA based this estimate on data developed in States from 
EPA Regions V and VI. This estimate is somewhat similar to our 
information. / 

We developed statistics for the 11 States that we reviewed. 
Statewide statistics in a format we could use were available for 
only six States. ^EPA Region V provided us with computerized oata 
for Illinois, Michigan, and Ohio, ^hile Massachusetts, New Jersey, 
and the District of Columbia had statewide data. In the remaining 
States in which stauewide statistics were not available, we 
obtained limited statistical data by contacting the most populous 
school districts. The schedule on page 12, shows that about 79 per- 
cent of the public schools were Inspected. These percentages are 
based on about 21,600 elementary and secondary public schools, 
or 25 percent of the na.tional total. The schedule does not include 
private schools because, of the 11 States, only Michigan had state- 
wide data. 


state or 
school district 

MuKiber of 
public schools 

Mui liber 


Long Beach 



' Los Angeles 






San Diego 



San Francisco 



District of Colurabia 



Fioi ida 

Brevard County 



Broward County 



Dade County 



Duval County 



Escambia <:ounty 



Hillsborough County 


a/0 to 160 

Jrange County 



Palm Beach County 



Pinellas County 


■ 121 

Polk County 






4, 199 








■ 3, 572 

New Jersey 




New York 




New York City 


. 982 


' 50 

' ■ 50 

On juO 


J / yii 










( 81 




Ft. Worth 






Total ' V 



.16,877 to 

Percent inspected 78 to 79 

a/School district offic^^s did not know how many schools were 

inspected • 

b/lnspections by State Depart^ient of Health staff since 1981. 
Although some school officials have independently done inspec- 
tions, the State does not know h^vj^ raany inspections were »aade 
and plans to inspect ail schools ahyway . 






Inspection quality varies 

Even though most public schools included in our review, are 
reported to have been inspected, the quality of inspections is 
questionable, based oh EPA's standards. In at least three cases 
only certain areas or features were inspected, while in another 
case inspections consisted of reviewing construction records. 
School districts in two States are still finding asbestos that was 
not identified in previous inspections. 

Many asbestos inspections included only certain school areas 
or features. For example, when Massachusetts State officials 
inspected schools built between 1946 and 1973, they only looked 
for sprayed-on material in student-accessible areas. The officials 
did not include pipe lagging or boilerrooms in their inspections. 
During phase II of the State's inspection program, which is cur- 
rently underway, officials will inspect pipe lagging and boiler- 
rooms. The San Francisco Unified School District officials 
inspected school areas employees specified. The Los Angeles 
Unified School District officials usually inspected only pipe 
lagging in work areas the maintenance staff pointed out. 

Additionally, the Dallas Independent School District relied 
on construction records for some or all of its facilities rather 
than on visual inspections and test sample analysis. EPA's guid- 
ance states that building construction records can be checked as 
a supplementary measure to determine if asbestos materials were 
listed in the building specifications. However, it noted that, 
since building reqords may be unreliable, checking records should 
not replace visually inspecting for, sampling , .and analyzing ' 
friable materials in school buildings. 

Another indication of incomplete inspections is the fact that 
some school districts are still finding asbestos materials after 
inspections had been made. According t6 the Director of Education- 
al Facilities for the Florida Department of Education, school dis- 
tricts are still finding more asbestos in schools that have been 
inspected. Also, according to the Director of School Plant for 
the Austin, Texas, school district, more asbestos-containing mate- 
rial has been found after the initial inspections. 

EPA concluded that many schools have not been inspected 
adequately, based on information received from regional asbestos 
coordinators. State and municipal reports, and other sources of 
information generated by TAP. 


Without specific criteria from EPA, State and school officials 
used various criteria in making abatement decisions. As a result, 
responses varied from no action to removal of all friable asbestos. 




For example, two localities chose opposite abatement criteria, 
Florida requires that public schools remove friable? asbestos ma- 
terials except where impractical. Any other abatement method must 
be approved by the^ State Board of Education^ In the nine Florida 
school districts that we contacted, 181 to 261 1./ schools had 
asbestos materials. Corrective action was taken in 173 schools. 

On the other hand, the Houston Independent School District 
has decided to take no abatement action, except for work done in 
conjunction with scheduled maintenance or renovation. According 
to its Director of Loss Control , who is responsible for the asbes- 
tos identification program, no action is planned until EPA deter- 
mines exactly what constitutes an asbestos hazard. Of the 232 
schools in the district, 115 had asbestos material. 

The State of Massachusetts and the San Diego Unified School 
District have developed numerical systems for deciding when con- 
trol actions are needed in their schools. For example , Massachu- 
setts uses an index to evaluate asbestos situations using five 
factors — condition, accessibility, friability, presence in an air 
plenum, and asbestos content — and computes a total value. Values 
can range from 0 to 56. A score of 21 or higher indicates the 
.need for controls. The following table shows the recommended 
action corresponding to the index score; , 

Index score 

0 to 4 
5 to 9 

10 to 15 

16 to 20 

21 and over 

The State asbestos coordinator said the index was also used 
as a general guide for determining the type of abatement to 
recommend. Of the 1,432 schools inspected through June 1979 
(phase I) of the State's asbestos program, 178 had asbestos'. A 
total of 58 schools needed immediate action. As of March 1982, 
asbestos had been removed or encapsulated in all but two schools. 

V.One school district could only estimate the number of schools 
containing asbestos. 

■ *v 

No action. 

Review in 3 years 
and institute 

Review in 1 year and 
institute surveil- 
lance program. 

Review to determine 
if control or sur- 
veillance is 
appropriate • 

Control . 


The San Diego LW^fied School District hired a consultant who 
developed a matrix to use in deciding when and how to abate as- 
bestos probleras. The .matrix applies values to factors such as as- 
bestos content, friability, material integrity, accessibility,, 
activity, air mcvement\ and water damage. Based on the total 
matrix score, each situation falls into one of the following 





450 and over 

Defer — reevaluate periodically 
Priority 3 — encapsulate/ enclose 
Priority 2 — encapsulate/enclose 
Priority 1 — restrict entry and remove 

Ten schools had asbestos, and the designated abatement action was 
taken in all cases. 

According to EPA ' s Director, Exposure Evaluation Division, 
EPA is aware of the use of other systems, but doubts the systems' 
reliability. The. various factors used in these systems are similar 
to the ones EPA determined were unreliable in its tests. 

While the above numerical ranking systems take asbestos con- 
tent into consideration in determining when and how to abate, the 
New York City Executive Director of School Buildings believes that 
no percent of asbestos content can be considered safe. He stated 
that the key criteria in assessing potential hazards 'are the 
location and condition of the material. If asbestos-containing 
material is damaged no matter what the asbestos content, fibers 
can become airborne and enter the occupied environment of the 
school. A total of 259 New York City school facilities had 
asbestos, of which 197 had been abated as of January 1982. 

Public and media pressure also contributed to abatement deci- 
sions in five school districts (Sacreuaento Unified, San Francisco 
Unified, Philadelphia, Pittsburgh, and Decatur, Illinois). For 
example, the asbestos coordinator for the Philadelphia School 
District told us that asbestos-containing material was found on 
surfaces such as walls and ceilings in about 18 percent of all 
buildings. None was considered hazardous; but, because of public 
pressure, all asbestos material will hk removed or encapsulated. 
Similarly, the Chief Construction Inspector for the Pittsburgh 
School District stated that, based on EPA's guidance docuiaents, 
district officials concluded that no asbestos hazards existe'd. 
However, they removed asbestos in three schools and encapsulated 
it in another because of pressure frora media, parents, and teacher 
groups . 



EPA Issues inspection 


EPA has spent nearly 3 years developin9 a re9ulation to con- 
trol asbestos hazards in schools, but the final rule will do little 
to alleviate the varied local and State responses to asbestos ha- 
zards. Although the rule requires schools to inspect for asbestos, 
EPA has not provided sufficient guidance to help schools determine 
when asbestos is hazardous and what control actions are raost 
appropriate. Without this in formation, there is no assurance that 
school occupants are being adequately protected* However, EPA 
expects to verify what it believes to be a reliable exposure indi- 
cator by November 1962 ^and issue guidance later ♦ 

How EPA's rule evolved 

EPA has been aware of the potential hazards of asbestos in 
schools for several years. In September 1978 EPA bfegan to .address 
the problem of existing asbestos in school buildings : EPA initi- 
ated formal rulemaking on asbestos in schools in July 1979 and 
issued its final rule May 27, 1982. 

EPA has been involved in regulating asbestos in buildings for 
many years. In 1973 EPA banned spray application of insulating and 
fireproofing material (but not decorative material) containing more 
than 1-percent asbestos by weight. In June 1978 EPA extended this 
ban to other construction uses of sprayed material containing more 
than 1-percent asbestos. Although EPA had banned spraying asbestos 
in buildings, it did not address the presence of existing asbestos 
in buildings . 


The asbestos-in-schools profeem was formally brought to EPA*s 
attention in .the form of two citizen petitions submitted under 
the Clean Air Act and TSCA. On September 18, 1978, New Jersey 
petitioned EPA to develop a regulation to control asbestos contam- 
ination in buildings. Later, on December 21, 197b, the Envircpn- 
roental Defense Fund filed a similar petition asking KI-A to initiate 
rulemaking to control asbestos emissions in school buildings* 

In September 1978, after receiving New Jersey's petition, EPA 
began developing TAP. In March 1979 EPA instituted TAP and soon 
thereafter denied New Jersey's and the Environmental Defense Fund's 
petitions. EPA cited two^major reasons for the* denials. First, 
EPA believed that TAP was the fastest way to reduce the risk posed 
by asbestos in schools. Second, EPA was collecting and evaluating 
information on asbestos problems and would in the future examine 
the need .for Federal regulatory action. * 

The Environmental Defense Fund believed that TAP was an in- 
sufficient response to the problem and brought suit against LPa 
on May 18, 1979, to impel it to begin rulemaking. On July 13, 

1979,' EPA reversed its original denials and voluntarily decided 
to grant the Environmental Defense Fund's and New Jersey's ^)eti- 
- .tions^ EPA cit^ed the following reasons, among others, for i^s 
reversal: ^ 

— TAPVas unsuccessful in getting a significant number of 
^ schools to participate . ^ ^ 


— EPA recently became able to develop abatement criteria. 

• — ^'Resources to devote to rulemaking recently became available. 

* ---EPA believed it needed to initiate the time-consuming rule- 
making process in the event a regulatory program was justi- 
i^. the future* 

, on September 20, 1979,, EPA issued an advanced notice of pro- 
posed rulemaking on asbestos in schools; EPA intended to issue the 
rule in two parts. /The first part would require inspections and 
the second part woifld require abatement. One year later, EPA 
issued its proposed i/ientif ication and notification rule. This 
proposal became final May 27, 1982, nearly 3 years after EPA 
granted the petitions for rulemaking. 

According. to the program manag"ers in charge of rulemaking, 
there- was little activity on the rulemaking since th^ change in 
administration in January 1981. In fact, the final regulation is 
virtually identical, except for a -few minor changes, to the pro- 
posed rule issued September 19^0. According to the Director of 
EPA's Chemical Control— Division, when the new .administration took 
over, it needed time to become familiar " with the issues, reassess 
il^s priorities, and review the rule. 

The second part of the rulemaking plan to address abatement 
" « was abandoned in April 1981- EPA conclucJed that identifying 
..^ . hazards under its identification and natifica£ion rule will provide 
\ > 'local school districts enough information to take corrective action 
'on their own. . * 

KPA's rule lacks hazard criteria 

- * 

EPA-'s final rule will not alleviate the varied State and 4.ocal 
responses to asbestos in schools. , State and school officials will 
still abate based on various criteria/ Although the rule requires 
inspection arid notification," it still does not provide any addi- . 
tional guidance on when asbestos is hazardous and needs abatement. 
Rather, it relies on tKe guidance TAP provides. 

EPA's final rule requires public and private elementary and ' 
secondary schools in the United States to identify friable 
asbestos-containing building materials, maintain inspection ^ 
Becords and notify employees of the location of th^ 'friable mate- - 
rials which contain asbestos, provide the employees instructions- 


O •• , 17 • • ' 

ERIC , • , ■>■ 26 

on reducing exposures to asbestos, and notify the schools' parent- 
teacher a'ssociation of inspection results when friable asbestos 
is found. Inspections must be completed by June 1983. 

EPA maintains that abatement is necessary in some schools. 
According to the final rule, abatement is often needed whenever 
fria'ble asbestos is visibly damaged and easily accessible or has 
poor cohesive strength. The abatement guidance being used in the 
final rule is the same guidance that was available under TAP. As 
discussed previously, TAP has resulted in varied State and local 
abatement responses. Although school districts are encouraged to 
consult with EPA regional asbestos coordinators when complying 
with the rule and regarding abatement actions, this did not elimi- 
nate the inconsistent State and local responses to asbestos in 
schools under TAP. EPA expects to provide further guidance after 
it validates an exposure indicator this fall. 

Schools that comply with the rul'e will still have, to use their 
own criteria in making abatement decisions. According to the 
Acting Deputy Director of EPA's Qiemical Control Divisic^, respon- 
sible people will take appropriate action when ^iven the available 
facts. EPA concedes, however, that notifiying parent-teacher 
groups may result in overreaction to asbestos conditions. In fact, 
according to the Director of EPA*s Chemical Control Division, over- 
reaction is probably more likely than under reaction. Although a 
hazardous school situation could theoretically go uncorrected, his 
guess is that local pressure will take care of it. However, EPA 
has no mechanism for ensuring that abatement action is taken in 
hazardous situations nor has it defined those situations. As dis- 
cussed earlier, EPA is continuing to work on additional guidance, 
but has no target date for its corapletion. Even when completed, 
it is intended to be advisory only because EPA considers abateraent 
to be a local decision. 


TAP was partially successful. It provided some information 
and stimulated some inspection and abatement activity. However, 
it is impossible to quantify the results .of TAP. Not only is 
data on inspections and abatement incoiAplete , but actions that 
have been taken were not always a TAP. The program's 
effectiveness was limited by its volunta^ry nature and its lack of 
criteria defining when asbestos is hazardous and needs abatement. 

Although EPA now requires schools, to be inspected and parents 
and employees notified of asbestos presence, it still has not pro- 
vided any additional guid.ance on when asbestos is hazardous enough 
to warrant abatement. Because' asbestos is still present in many 
schools that have been ' inspected and more will probably be dis- 
covered due to EPA*s inspection requirement, many school officials 
will be faced with future abatement decisio^^. We believe the 
lack of definitive Federal criteria has resulted in State and 
local use of different criteria for abatement decisions. Until 
EPA develops such criteria, we believe that school officials may 




continue to overreact and 8?snd money needlessly or, more impor- 
tantly, underreact and expose school occupants to hazardous 
asbestos conditions in schools. However, EPA is currently 
•addressing this issue in its research. It expects to validate 
what it believes to be a promising measure for assessing asbestos 
exposure by November 1982 and later issue guidance based on this 
measure. Consequently, we have no recommendations to the Admini- 
strator, EPA, at this time. 







The purposes of the Asbestos School Hazard Detection and 
Control Act of 1980, to (1) provide financial assistance to 
detect and correct hazardous asbestos conditions in schools and 
(2) establish an informational program for controlling asbestos 
in schools/ were not achieved. Because no funds were provided to 
the financial assistance programs, the Department of Education 
releqa4:ed-Jthe_,itx format io nal pr ogram to a low priority. Although 

Education provided some general procedures ^n-^how—to-deteet.. and . 

correct asbestos, it did not provide specific criteria for deter- 
mining when asbestos is hazardous and warrants abatement. 
Consequently, Education did not resolve the dilemma facing school 
officials: When should asbestos be removed from their schools? 

In addition. Education-required State reports and records 
provide limited information on the scope of asbestos in schools. 
The act requires that States report on their plans to distribute 
asbestos information and to maintain records on asbestos detection 
and abatement in their schools. However, few State reports were 
submitted to Education, and State records were incomplete. Lack 
of funding and absence of an EPA rule requiring local inspection 
and recordkeeping contributed to this condition. As a result, 
the extent of asbestos in schools remains uncertain. 


Tlie Congress found that, despite some State and Federal / 
activities, there was no systematic program for identifying and 
remedying hazardous asbestos conditions in schools, it further 
found that the presence of friable or easily damaged asbestos in 
school buildings creates an unwarranted hazard to the health of 
tlie schoolchildren and school employees exposed" to such materials. 
It also determined that, without an improved program of information 
distribution, technical and scientific assistance, and financial 
support, many local educational agencies and States would not be 
able to mitigate the potential asbestos hazards in their schools. 
So, on June 14, 1980, the Asbestos School Hazard Detection and 
Control Act of 1980 was enacted. 

The act, among other things, 

--authorizes grants for inspecting schools for asbestos and 
loans for containing or removing hazardous asbestos; 



— requires a review of EPA guidelines for determining when 
asbestos in schools constitutes a health problem and netids 
abatement, the corapilation and distribution of scientific 
information on health hazards, and technical assistance in 
' detecting and controlling asbestos; and .5- 

— requires States to report to Education on asbestos infor- 
mation distribution and recordkeeping and maintain records 
on asbestos conditions in their schools • 

The act was to be carried out by the Secretary of Education 
with the assistance of the asbestos hazards school safety task 
force appointed by the Secretary. The task force was coMPosed of 
10 nieiubers of various health and education-related agencies and 
organizations, including EPA« 



One of the primary purposes of the act, to provide financial 
assistance to State and local education agencies, was not realized. 
The act: authorized' the appropriatipn of $22*5 million for an asb-^s-- 
tos detection grant program and $150 million for an asbestos 
hazards control loan program. These funds were to reuiain available 
for obligation through September 30, 1983, However, <a general 
extension of authorizations provided by the Omnibus Budget Recon-, 
ciliation Act of 1981 (Public Law 97-35) extended the authorization 
through September 30, 1984. 

Despite the authorization, the act has not been funded. The 
administration did not request the Congress to appropriate f undr^ . 
Education did request funding for the act for fiscal year J 981, 
but the Office of Management and Budget denied the request in 
August 1980. According to a budget examiner in the Office of 
Management and Budget, the request was denied because of other 
budget priorities. Also, according to the budget examiner, the 
time of the request was one of extraordinary budget constraints. 
Education did not request funding again. 


A requirement of the act, to review and revise, as necessary/ 
EPA guidelines for determining when asbestos in schools is hazard- 
ous and needs abatement as well as provide other scientific and 
technical assistance, was not completed. As required. Educahion 
did"provi"de~prraeeaures tor asbestos detection and control. 
However, the centerpiece of information, that is, when asbestos 
poses a hazard in schools and thus what appropriate action to haKe, 
was not completed. The , task force was charged with reviewing EPA 
guidelines designed to help school officials determine the extent 
of danger from asbestos materials in their schools. However, it 
never completed this task, because, without funding of the grant 
and loan programs. Education conr^idered the informational program 


a low priority. As a result, although school officials were 
provided information on how to test for, .contain, and remove asbes- 
tos as well as how to select contractors to do the work, they were 
never advised as to when asbestos is hazardous and warrants correc- 
tive action. 

Education issued asbestos detection 
and control procedures 

Shortly after the act was passed. Education developed 
standards and procedures for asbestos detection and control proj- 
ects, which it issued in its final regulations of January 16, 1981. 
Because the act directed Education to avoid duplicating, to the 
extent possible, any work done by EPA, these procedures relied 
mainly on EPA dpcuments. 

In consultation with the asbestos hazards school safety task 
force, EducationUstablished and distributed to the States 

procedures for testing for asbestos in schools, containing- 

and removingSsbestos materials in school buildings, 
replacing removed asbestos materials with appropriate ma- 
terials, restoring schools to comparable conditions, and 
determining which contractors are qualified to carry out 
the procedures and 

— incomplete standards for evaluating the likelihood of re-- 
lease of asbestos fibers into the school environment. 

In avoiding duplication of EPA activities, as required by 
the act. Education relied on EPA to the extent that most of the 
procedures and standards have been adopted directly from those 
established in EPA's proposed regulations for asbestos m schools. 
For example. Education used EPA's guidance on inspecting school 
buildings and sampling and analyzing friable materials. It also 
used EPA's procedures for containing and removing building 
materials containing asbestos. 

Criteria for determining asbestos . 
hazard and corrective action mcomplrete 

Although Education issued standards and procedures for detect- 
ing and controlling asbestos, it did not complete its revision of 
EPA's guidelines in determining when asbestos m schools is hazard- 
ous and needs abatement. The task force initially revised EPA s 
guidelines but did not complete the revision to identify those 
schools in which exposure to asbestos fibers constitutes a health 
problem and the appropriate corrective action. After 1980 the task 
force never met to address thife issue, because, without funding. 
Education considered the asbestos program a low priority. In ^ 
addition, the task force did not complete its compilation of ^ 


medical, technical, and scientific information t° . f ^^^J^f 
to State and local educational agencies. Consequently, after 
inspecting for and finding asbestos, school officials were left 
■with incomplete information on the appropriate corrective action. 

Although the task force was established by the act to help 
States and local educational agencies determine the extent of 
danger from exposure to asbestos materials in schools, it did not 
complete the criteria for determining when asbestos in schools is 
hazardous and what corrective action is appropriate. Specifically, 
the act required the task force to review EPA guidelines for iden- 
tifying thbse schools in which exposure to asbestos fibers consti- 
tutes I health problem and for taking appropriate corrective 
actlonS at such^chools in order to determine whether any modifi- 
cations of such guidelines should be reconunended to the Secretary. 

Although the task force modified EPA's guidelines, it did not 
complete itS revision. The task force revised EPA's draft asbes- . 
?os exposure assessment, and Education published 
guidance system in its final regulations on January 16, 1981. 
According lo Education's final regulations, the J 
ferred a less rigid system. It therefore reduced the factors in 
dSerminiig the. likelihood of asbestos fiber release. The system 
identified four factors— condition, exposure, friability, and 
asbestos content. 

This is how the system ^is designed to work: Each factor is 
given a score that best corresponds to the description provided 
in the guidance system. For example, in scoring for the condition 
factor. If less than 10 percent of the asbestos material is coming 
loose, t-his condition would be scored 2 on a scale of 0 to 5, 
-indicating moderate deterioration'. Once scores have been assigned 
iS thI individual factors, a weighted formula is applied, wha^ch 
results in a guidance number. 

Although this guidance number is to indicate the appropriate 
action needed. Education never related the numbers to specific 
actions. in its final regulations. Education said that several 
members of the task force are conducting a comprehensive analysis 
of data to develop specific guidance numbers that establish 
criteria to assist school administrators in deciding the appro- 
- priate action to take once asbestos is found. It also said that 
it would distribute this information when the task force completes 
its analysis. 

The task force never met again, however. It met only three 
times--leptember 29, November 12, and December 10, 1980. Although 
a ?ourth meeting was scheduled for March 4, 1981, the meeting was 
deferred until £he new administration had an opportunity to become 
settled, permanent personnel were selected, and the Secretary 
named a new chairman. 


" 32 

However, the incoming Secretary of Education did' nbt select 
a chairman to replace the outgoing one who resigned with the former 
administration January 20, 1981* Although it was questionable why 
no chairman was appointed, according to Education's Director, State 
and Local Education Programs, Office of Elementary and Secondary 
Education, the implications were that without funding the program 
just died* 

Incomplete health hazard information 

Although the act required the task force to compile and 
distribute medical, scientific, and technical information on the 
health and safety hazards associated with asbestos materials, 
little was accomplished. The task force began compiling the in- 
formation; but, because it did not meet after December 10, 1980, 
it did not complete the compilation. According to Education's 
final regulations, if the task force did not complete its compi- 
lation by March 15, 1981, EPA's proposed regulations documenting 
health hazards associated with exposure to asbestos fibers would 
suffice for State distribution to schools. 


Another requirement, that States submit reports on asbestos 
actions and maintain records on asbestos conditions, resulted in 
limited information. States were required to submit to Education 
plan^ and 6-month progress reports on their distribution of asbes- 
tos information to local school districts and on their recordkeep- 
ing and to maintain records on asbestos conditions in their 
schools. Although most of the States we reviewed submitted plans 
on information dissemination and recordkeeping, few 6-month re- 
ports were submitted describing the actions taken as outlined in 
their plans. The reports that were submitted provided little in- 
formation. Without funding. Education did not continue to pursue 
the State information and States lost their incentive to provide 

Also, little additional information was provided under the^ 
act's State recordkeeping requirement. EPA's delay in issuing its 
inspection and recordkeeping requirements hindered the collection 
of useful information on the extent of asbestos in schools. 
However, EPA has since issued its final regulations, which would 
provide the data base for States. 

Reports add little data 

Although State plans outlined the reponsibility and proce- 
dures for distributing asbestos information and maintaining 
records on asbestos in schools, the 6-month reports provided 
little additional data on the scope of the asbestos situation. 
The act required the States to submit a plan to Education 

— describing its procedures for distributing information 
to local educational agencies; 


— describing the information to be distributed^; 

< — describing its procedures for maintaining records on 
detection, presence, and control of asbestos in schools; 

— designating a State agency or unit responsible for carrying 
out the provisions of the act. 

In addition. States were to submit , to Education three 6-month 
reports describing the actions taken in accordance with their 

In our review of 11 States, only the District of Colurnbia 
did not submit a plan. Generally, State plans complied with the 
above requirements* of the act. However, few 6-month reports 
were submitted, and those that were provided little information. 
As shown in the table on page 26, only 2 of the 11 States that we 
reviewed submitted the first 6-month report, and only 4 submit- 
ted the second 6-month report. In fact, according to the former 
Director of Education's Asbestos School Hazard Detection and Con- 
trol Program, a total of only 12 reports were submitted nation- 
wide. States were not submitting the reports, according to 
several State education officials, because they had other priori- 
ties and did not perceive that Education considered them important 
We completed our review before the third and last report was to 
be submitted. 


status of St-ate Reporting Activity 

State plan First 6-month Second 6-month 
State submitted report submitted report submitted 

California ^ 




District of Columbia 




















New Jersey 




New York 


















2 . 


The reports that were submitted did not provide much informa- 
tion on asbestos in schools. Only Michigan's report included 
statistics on asbestos detection and the corr'ective action taken 
in its schools. The remaining five reports provided only general 
information. For example, California and Pennsylvania reported 
that they were distributing information on asbestos liability to 
their schools. 

Education took several actions to encourage the States to 
sgibmit adequate plans. It contacted those States which had not 
submitted plans and urged them to do so. It also reviewed each 
State's plan for satisfactory completion of the requirements and 
provided suggestions to States to improve their plans.* However, 
because of a lack« of funding and the low priority of the program, 
Education took no action to encourage that the subsequent 6-month 
State reports be submitted. The act required States receiving 
administrative funds for any program under the General Education 
Provisions Act to provide such reports and plans. According to 
Education's Director, State and Local Education Programs, Office 
of Elementary and Secondary Education, Education could have 
withheld such funds from the States for not reporting, but it 
would have been too strong an action. 

Recordkeeping coordination delay 

The objectives of the recordkeeping requirements were not 
achieved. States are required to maintain records on the asbestos 
detection activities, the presence, if any, of friable asbestos 
in school buildings, and the asbestos control activities. This 
requirement was instituted with the understanding that EPA would 
issue its final regulations requiring inspection and recordkeeping 
at the local level to coincide with the issuance of Education's 
recordkeeping procedures at the State level. However, EPA did not, 
isjsue its final regulations until 16 months after Education's. 

Both EPA and Education published their proposed regulations 
on September 17, 1980. EPA proposed that each local education 
agency inspect for and retain records on its detection activities 
and on the amount of friable asbestos in schools. Education pro^* 
posed that States maintain copies of the recordkeeping form com- 
pleted by each of its local education agencies in compliance with 
EPA regulations,. It was anticipated that schools would be required 
to inspect for asbestos and that information required at the State 
level would be readily available at the local level. 

Education issued its final regulations on January 16, 1981, 
within the time period required by the act. However, EPA did not 
issue its final regulations until May 27, 1982, over 16 months 
later. Consequently, State records are based on voluntary inspec-* 
tions rather than the intended mandatory inspections using EPA 
established procedures. As discussed in chapter 2, under the 
voluntary program, not all schools were inspected and, of those 
that were, the quality varied among school districts. Thus, the 
data collected by the States was incomplete and questionable. 

EPA has since issued its final regulatidns requiring local 
educational agencies to begin inspecting schools, which would pro^c 
vide the data base for State recordkeeping as envisioned by the 
act. t 


Overall, the Asbestos School Hazard Detection and Control 
Act of 1980 has had- little impact on State arid local activities 
regarding asbestos in schools. One of the act's primary purposes, 
to provide financial assistance to detect and correct hazardous 
asbestos in schools, was not achieved. Because the grant and loan 
programs were not funded. Education relegated the ijiformational 
program to a low priority. Education did provide technical assist* 
ance on matters such as testing for, containing, and removing 
asbestos. However, as in the case with EPA, the centerpiece of 
inf ormatio"n*«that is, when asbestos poses a hazard in schools and 
requires abatement«was not completed. As discussed in chapter 2, 
EPA is currently addressing this issxle in its research. lb expects 
to validate what ijt believes to be a promising measure for assess* 
ing asbestos exposure by November 1982 and later issae guidance 




based on this maaaure. Therefore, we believe it would be dupli- 
cative and unnecessary for Education to pursue this raatter. 

Recordkeeping- and reporting requireiaents .provided limited 
infomation on the extent of asbestos in schools. Few States 
submitted reports, and State records were incoraplete. Absence 
of an EPA rule requiring local inspections and recordkeeping 
resulted in only limited data available to be collected. However 
EPA's rule, issued in May 1982, should provide the data base for 
State recordkeeping as envisioned by the act. 

/ \ 






District of 




New Jersey 
New York 



program Schools included 
began in program 

1977 Public (K-12) 

1977 Public/Private 

1977 public (K-12) 

and Coraniunity 

1979 P' blic (K-12) 

1977 Publi': (K-Higher 

1976 Public/Piivate 


1977 Public (K-12) 

197^5 Public (K-12) 

1977 Publ ic/Pr ivate 
(K-12) ' 

1977 Public/Private 

(K-12) and 
State Cv)llejes/ 

1978 Public/Privtito 


done by State ? 

On request 



On request 


On request 
NO (note c) 

On request 

until June 1980 

On rcqjest 

State funding 
for abatemen t? 










State authority 
to requii:e local 
action ? 




( inspect & abate) 



Yes (inspect) 


a/State matching (50 percent) fumis under the deferred in/iin tynunce program may be used at the expense 
other maintenance work* 

b/Performed inspejctions £ind laboratory analysis for two counties in a pilot study. 

c/The State requested the local health departments to inspect public achools as part of their nocmal 
^ inspect ions. 





California has had a limited role in the school asbestos 
program. The State asbestos coordinator estimated that he devotes 
about 5 percent of his time to school asbestos activities. He 
noted that EPA has not documented at what level of exposure asbes- 
tos is a hazard r and that if EPA believed asbestps to be a problem, 
the program would be mandatory, not voluntary. Additionally, he 
said that the State would have been more^,ctive if the response 
from local school districts had been greater. 

The State Department of Education has been responsible for 
school asbestos activities since mid-1980. During the period 1977 
through mid-198ro, the Departments of Health and Education were in-*' 
volved with school asbestos activities. Department of Health' 
.activities consisted primarily of inspecting schools on request, 
including any laboratory analysis required. Most inspections oc- 
curred during a 5-month period in 1979, when about 11 schools were 
surveyed • 

Before assuming responsibility for school asbestos activities, 
the Department of Education was involved primarily in distr;Lbuting 
information to local schools and other officials, tfwo letters were 
sent to school officials in early 1977 concerning the general 
health hazards of asbestos in ceilings and the potential hazard 
pos^^d by this situation. Additionally, the department developed 
a departmental procedure in 1977 which suggested that school 
district officials inspect their facilities for asbestos. In 1978 
and 1979 the department sent several memorandums to its^egional 
staff which discussed potential asbestos hazards and contained 
instructions for surveying schools. 

Since the Department of Education became responsible for 
asbestos, it has* 

--distributed copies of EPA*s proposed rule and the Asbestos 
School Hazard Detection and Control Act to school districts, 

— prepared the State plan required by the Asbestos School 
Hazard Detection and Control Act/ 

— handled telephone inquiries and inspected 10 to 12 schools^ 
on request, and 

—prepared copt estimates for alleviating asbestos hazards 
in schools. ^ 

The State does not provide funds specifically for asbestos 
abatement work. However, as a result of legislation passed in 
September 1981, local governments are allowed to use deferred 
mainte^nce program funds for this purpose. This legislation 
expanded the definition of deferred maintenance to include 

' 30 

■ ^ . . 


asbestos related workf in addition to maintenance and renovation 
projects normally included. In this program the State pays half 
the cost of the projects and the^ lo^al government the remainder. 

The State has no legislation or authority requiring inspec- 
tion or abatement work by local governments. The State leaves the 
decision whether to inspect'^up to local officials. Since no 
summary data was availabl^e at the State level conceraing the extefit 
of inspections and the procedures followed by local school. dis- 
tricts, we visited five of the most populous school districts to 
determine if inspe^taons have been done (San Francisco Unified, 
Sacramento Unified, Los Angeles Unified, Long Beach Unified , and 
San DiegoUxi^i-fied ) . Three of these distr icts—Saqramento , Long 
J^aiiJvr an'a San Diego-'-have performed complete inspections of tl\eir 
facilities, while two distr icbs~San Francisco and Los ^Vngelea-"- 
have inspected only selected school areas such. as work areas and 

areas for which complaints have been received from employees. 


Los Angeles school officials told us that a comprehensive 
inspection program for the 11,000 to 13,000 buildings in the dis- 
trict would be extremely expensive. Therefore, schools htiv.e 
generally been inspected only when maintenance staff report that 
they suspect asbestos in work areas. Portionis of;93 schools have 
been inspected as of June 1982. The safety officer for Jthe school 
district believes that every building 'probably has at least some 
asbestos. San Francisco school officials have inspected those 
schools for which a complaint has been 'received from Employees. 

. ^ ' ' " \ \ ^' 


^ -f # 

NThe District's Division of Occupat^ional Health and Board of 
Education have both been involved in school asbestos activities. 
Public school inspections were completed by Division of Occupa- 
tional Health staff in 1978 ,. before TAP. ' The inspections were 
done as*part of the quarterly environmental health evaluations.-' 
Some private schools were inspected in 1979 as a result of a re- 
quest by the Catholic diocese. There are 12Q private*- schools 
the District, of which 42 are Catholic diocese schools. Accoi:dirig , 
to the Safety Manager of the Board of Education, about 14 of the 
diocese schools have been inspected for asbestoj. This official*' 
h^. information on 35 of the remaining 78 private schools—none 
have been inspected. The Division of Occupational Health staff 
performing the inspections received in-house training on detecting 
asbestos-containing material. All school areas i^were inspected-^- 
classrooms, corridor s , and boiler rooms . 

Eight of the 196 public schools had asbestos material 
requiring abatement in classroom or corridor areas. Encapsulation 
was usually the abatement method used. Most schools had asbestos 
pipe insulation, which was then wrapped with gauze. The cost of 
abatement work and laboratory analysis was covered by regular 
maintenalice funds. There were uo specific appropriations for 
asbesto^s^-related activities. 





The ^District has no specific legislation or authority for 
inspecting or abating asbestos hazards; Division of Occupational 
. Health staff performed inspections as part of their regular health 
surveys. Corrective action was recommended based on these 

Although formal inspections were completed in 1979/ Division 
of OcQupational. Health staff will reinspect on request. The Acting 
Chief of the Division noted that this program will continue because 
future damage or deterioration may pose potential problems. 


Florida has been involved with school asbestos activities 
since February 1977/ when^the State Department of Education sent 
a letter to all public school and community college officials re- 
questing them to inspect their facilities. In September 1978 the 
department required surfaces to be free of sprayed-on asbestos- 
beai:ing material exceeding Federal requirements. The school regu- 
lations were revised in* 1981 to require more specifically that 
officials visually inspect and abate asbestos in public schools 
and community colleges. Although local officials are required to 
perform inspections, the State has no procedure verifying that 
inspections are actually done. Identified friable and cementitious 
asbestos-bearing materials which do or could allow the release of 
asbestos fibers must be removed. ' If complete removal of friable 
" asbestos material is impractical/ an alternate method may be used 
if the board of education j:oncurs. 

In both 1979 and 1980/ the department sent questionnaires to 
public schools to deteripine the status of^ inspections and abatement 
work. From the responses, the departmenf' developed a summary 
showing asbestos found in terms of square feet. The State asbestos 
coordinator estimated that abatement work will be completed in all 
public schools by the summer of 1982. 

The State has provided funds to public schools and community 
colleges for asbestos abatement work. In 1980 and 1981 the State 
appropriated a total of $10,473,950 for this purpose. The cost of * 
laboratory analysis was the responsibility of local school 

Until recently, the State asbestos coordinator spent about 
50 percent of his time on school asbestos activities. He currently 
devotes somewhat less time to the program. 


Illinois first became involved with school asbestos activities 
in the fall of 1979.. According to the State asbestos coordinator, 
most State activities were performed in conjunction with EPA. The 
coordinator believes, however, that publicity over asbestos 

ERIC V 32 



problems in other States was the impetus for the State's activity. 
Jtost State involvement in school asbestos occurred before May 1981 
and consisted of 

— giving 12 to 15 statewide workshops for local officials on^ 
the health hazards of asbestos and on procedures for identi- 
fying and abating hazards, 

— responding to inquiries from local officials and dissemi- 
nating requested information, and 

— doing some inspections on request. 

Since May 1981 State activities have consisted primarily of 
answering inquiries r which the asbestos coordinator said have 
•decreased ^s time passed, ffe estimated that overall he has devoted 

about 10 percent Qf his time to school asbestos activities. 


- The State asbestos coordinator said that the State role has 
been advisory because no legislation or authority requires inspec- 
tions or corrective action by schools. No State funds have been 
provided to local schools for inspections or abatement work. 
However, the school districts can recover such costs under the 
Health, Life,<^ and Safety Code, which allows the districts to assess 
a tax levy or issue bonds. However, the coordinator noted that 
most of these funds are used for other improvements or repairs 
required under the Health, Life, and Safe.ty Code. 

Laboratory analysis of samples taken by local officials are 
done by private laboratories and paid for by the local schools. 


Massachusetts school asbestos activities began in 1977 when 
a special legislative commission was funded to investigate the 
extent of asbestos use and exposure in public schools and 
buildings. State activities consist of two phases. In phase I, 
State personnel from the Department of Labor and Industries 
inspected classroom areas for spray-on asbestos material (pipe 
insulation was not included) in public schools built or renovatfed 
during the years 1946 to 1973. These inspections began in 1977 and 
were completed in 1979. Phase II, which began in the fall of 1981, 
consists of (1) inspecting phase I .schools for pipe insulation, 
(2) inspecting boilerrooms in phase I schools, (3) reinspecting 
phase I schools where asbestos was found but no corrective action 
was recommended and (4) inspecting public schools built outside 
the phase I time frame 'and other public buildings (for example, 
municipal buildings and State college facilities) for spray-on 
asbestos materials and pipe insulation. These inspections are 
still in process. 

The State has no legislation or authority requiring school 
officials to inspect or abate. However, State personnel do the 
inspections, and State funds are provided for public schools which 





make corrections recommended by the State. State funds can cover 
from 50 to 75 percent of the cost of abatement work'. The State' 
appropriated $2 million for schools performing recommended correc- 
tive action under phase I. Laboratory analysis is done by the 
State at no cost to local schools. No funds are currently avail- 
able for abatement work recommended under phase II, which will take 
an estimated 8 or 9 years to complete. 


Michigan initially became involved with school asbestos activ-^^ 
ities in 1976 when the State Bureau of Environmental and Occupa- 
tional Health began a 2-year pilot study in two school districts. 
I'his study was designed to determine the extent of asbestos in 
schools.. Inspections were done by local health department staff, 
and laboratory* analysis was performed at the State laboratory. As 
a result of this study, the Bureau of Environmental and Occupa- 
tional Health and the State Department of Education sent a joint 
letter to public and ^private schools urging that they inspect their 
facilities. The bureau continues to provide free laboratory anal- 
ysis and advice, on request. 

In late 1979 the bureau conducted about 15 workshops for 
local officials and any other interested parties. These workshops 
dealt with asbestos health hazards, identification, and abatement. 

No State legislation or authority exists requiring local 
schools to inspect for asbestos or to perform abatement work. 
Additionally, no funds are available for these activities. 

The State Department of Education became more active in 
school asbestos activities in 1980 as a result of the Federal 
Asbestos School Hazard Detection and Control Act. Its involvement 
has primarily consisted obtaining data from public and private 
schools on their asbestos identification and abatement activities 
an^ mailing to sc>^ools copies of proposed and final Federal as- 
bestos regulations. Since the bureau has been involved with school 
asbestos, it has had two staff persons devoting about 5 percent 
of their time to school asbestos activities. The State Department 
of Education has had one staff person spend about 2 weeks on school 
asbestos activities. 


New Jersey's asbestos activities began shortly after asbestos 
hazards were discovered in Howell Township in 1976. . In January 
1977 the State Department of -Education sent a letter to public 
school districts asking them to inspect their facilities for asbes- 
tos and report the results to it. About 250 districts reported 
finding asbestos. 

The State Department of Health also became involved with as- 
bestos in schools in August 1977, when officials began visiting 
schools which were reported to have contained asbestos. 


A State task force was established in 1977, comprising of- 
-f.icial.8. from the State Departments of Education, Health, Environ- 
mental protection. TreasurYr aHa"i:ohsumer-s- .A^fa-xrs-.- Jh^,^^^^" " 
force's raission was to determine the extent of asbestos hazards 
in public buildings and safe removal procedures. This task force 
ISsued its own minimum specifications for asbestos' removal in 1979 
prior to being disbanded. 

A second task fo^ce was established in 1979 to study various 
aspects of the asbestos problem. Two potentially serious areas 
were identified (1) improper disposal of ^asbestos ^ J^^f^J^ J. 
and (2) asbestos coiitamination of water from asbestos cement pipes. 
This task force is currently inactive; however, before being 
disbanded, it advised against using encapsulants in abating 
asbestos hazards or potential hazards. 

In 1979 the New Jersey Department of Treasury. Division of 
Building and Construction, developed a training for asbes- 

tos removal by contractors. This course is actually taught by an 
EPA Region II technical advisor and is required for certification 
before a contractor can perform asbestos removal work in the State. 

At the end of 1980 the State established a formal asbestos 
control program within the Department of Health. All public 
schools (K-12) are to be inspected under this program, starting 
with those which previously reported problems. Inspections by 
State personnel began in 1981. and four full-time staff persons 
from the Department of Health are currently working on these 
acSvities. Facilities other than public schools "^^^ ^J. ^"^P^f 
-on request, but public schools have priority. As of April 1982 
about 6 percent (or 150) of the public schools ^ad been -"^P^f 
In addition to performing inspections, program staff have ^^^^ 
random checks of removal projects in progress to assess compliance 
with proper procedures . 

Since statewide information on abatement priteria used by 
local school districts was unavailable, we contacted an official 
from the most populous school district in the State— Newark. The 
superintendent for Design and Construction stated that, because o£ 
cost, abatement work has to be done on a pr iority basis . Areas 
occupied by students and faculty are being done first and other 
areas (boilerrooms and student-restricted areas) will then be done. 

NO State legislation or authority exists requiring inspection 
or corrective action, nor are State funds provided for such 
purposes . 


New York first became involved with school asbestos activities 
•«n 1978. The State Departments of Health and Education were both 
involved in disseminating information to schools on potential 
health hazards. The Department of Health performed inspections and 

r 35. 45 



laboratoxy tests for schools on request .un.ti.l Wi.d-1979* The 
legislature .passed the. S„chobL Asbestos Safety Act_in March 1979. > .... 
to take effect July 1979. The act gave the Department of Education 
sole responsibility for the school asbestos program* At that time, 
the Department of Health discontinued inspections and laboratory 
analysis for public schoo^l^due to funding restrictions. 

The School Asbestos Safety Act required public school offi- 
cials to inspect their facilities for loose or friable asbestos 
and to report the results to the Department of Education before 
November 1979. Annual reports are also required to be submitted 
by the school districts ^showing the status of their asbestos activ- 
ities (that is, identificat.ion and abatement.) ' To assist the 
school districts, the department prepared guidance in 1980 on 
controlling and abating asbestos conditions in public schools. 
Although it is based partly on EPA's guidance documents , the State 
disagrees with EPA's position that asbestos-containing ceiling 
tiles should be of no concern and warns that damaged ceiling tiles 
can release asbestos fibers. The State believes that, since there 
is no kno^yn safe threshold for asbestos exposure, "the 'p'rudent 
person' approach would indicate that, at the least, where feasible, 
excess asbestos exposure be controlled." Although the State guid- 
ance discusses factors which can increase exposure, it does not 
provide a formula for deciding wh^^re corrective action is necessary 
or which method. is most appropriate. 

Since statewide summary date* on the number of schools with 
asbestos and those which have been abated was not available, we 
contacted officials from the three largest school districts in 
New York (New York City, Buffalo, and Rochester) to obtain data. 
Only New York City could provide abatement statistics. A total 
of 259 school facilities had asbestos, of which 197 have been 
abated. The remaining schools are exported to have abatement 
work completed in the summer of 1982. 

An architect for the Rochester School District said it has 
decided to encapsulate or enclose asbestos material in those 
schools which may eventually be closed because of declining 
enrollment. All 50 schools in the district have been inspected, 
with 44 found to have asbestos-containing materi'al. 

Although the School Asbestos Safety Act requires inspections 
by public schools, abatement work is not mandated. However, State 
grants for abatement have been available to school districts since, 
1980'. The State has appropriated $1.75^ million each year for this 
purpose. School districts must apply to the State Department of 
Education for grants and include specific information on the 
nature and cost of the work. Grants are distributed based on a 
formula used for State aid to schools. A school district receives 
40 percent of the cost of the project, plus a percentage of the 
remaining cost based on the State school aid ratio to that 
district . 



The- State asbestos coordinator estimated that he has devoted 
-hetveen. lO. and -20 per.cent. of his. time to school asbestos 


According to the State asbestos coordinator, Ohio's school 
asbestos activities have been essentially advisory. No State law 
or other authority requiries inspection or abatement activity, and 
no State funds are provided for these purposes. 

The Department of Health is the State agency primarily respon- 
sible for school asbestos activities. In 1977 the department con- 
tacted its district offices, the Board of Building, and the State 
Department of Education to determine if they were aware of any 
school asbestos problems. None were. In 1978 the department, at 
■the request of the Governor, designated a staff person as State 
coordinator . 

At the request of the Department of Health, local health de- 
partment staff inspected most public schools for asbestos. This 
5as done during 1979 and 1980 in conjunction ^ith their normal 
inspection activities. The Department of Health does laboratory 
analysis for schools free of charge. However, due to the limited 
capacity of the State laboratory, most analyses for schools are 
done by private laboratories. , 

In 1979 the department held nine statewide meetings for local 
health department officials to explain the health hazards of 
asbestos and methods of detection and abatement. Officials from 
about 120 of the 159 local health departments attended. Addition- 
ally, the department has held, or participated in, meetings for 
Stal4 and local officials and media. These ""fetings were designed 
to inform officials of potential health hazards and to enlist their 


Pennsylvania first became involved in school asbestos activi- 
ties in 1977, when its Bureau of Occupational Health began doing 
inspections and laboratory analysis on request. The motivating 
factor was publicity concerning asbestos hazards m schools else- 
where Inspections were done until June 1980 when the bureau was 
"abolished. No estimate of the number of schools surveyed could 
be provided. Besides public and private schools, the bureau also 
inspected State builc^ings. 

The State Department of Education became involved with school 
asbestos in 1979 and, with the Bureau of Occupational Health, 
mailed a questionnaire to public and private schools to determine 
the extent of asbestos in these facilities. The Department of 
Education took over sole responsibility for school asbestos activ- 
ities in mid-1980. Since then, it has responded to inquiries, 

lie 37 



prepared a State plan under the Asbestos School Hazard Detection 
and Control Act, and sent out a questionnaire to all public and 
private schools (including State colleges and universities) in 
December 1981 to determinfe if they have been inspected for asbestos 
and if abatement was done. 

The State asbestos coordinator noted that Department of 
Education asbestos activities have been limited because it does 
not .have the resources or expertise to perform inspections or do 
laboratory analysis. The State coordinator estimated that he has 
devoted about 5 percent of his time to school asbestos activities. 
He expects this to increase due to the need to' review and summarize 
the December 1981 questionnaire. 

The State has no legislation or authority requiring school 
•officials to inspect for or abate asbestos.. In addition, no^ State 
funds are available f or ■ these purposes. . « . 

Since current statewide data was unavailable on inspections 
of public schools, we contacted officials of the Philadelphia and 
Pittsburgh School Districts to determine what inspection activity 
had occurred. Pittsburgh had inspected 17 of 98 schools — those 
built between 1946 and 1973. It is currently inspecting the re- 
maining schools. The Philadelphia School District had inspected 
^all of its 295 schools. 


Both the State Department of Health and the Texas Education 
Agency are involved in school asbestos activities. The Department 
of Health does laboratory analysis at no charge for public and 
private schools. Over 4,000 bulk samples had been received for 
analysis as of February 1982. 

The Texas Education Agency first became involved with school 
asbestos in 1979 when, in conjunction with the Department of 
Health,^ it sent information on asbestos hazards to public and 
private schools. The material included a post card to be returned 
to the department, stating whether school officials suspected that 
their facilities had any asbestos containing material. Although 
a department official believed the post card responses had been 
summarized, no summary report could be located. Since September 
1980, the Texas Education Agency has become more involved in school 
asbestos activities as a result of the Asbestos School Hazard 
Detection and Control Act. This involvement has included 

--handling telephone inquiries and mailing background infor- 
mation to public and private schools; 

— preparing a State plan as required under the act; 

— inspecting "a few" schools on request; and 

ERiC ^^48 ^ 



—mailing a letter to ali public' and private schoo'ls (kinder-r 
garten to grade 12) stating that the Asbestos School 
Detection Hazard and Control Act, required them to inspect 
their facilities for asbestos and maintain certain 
records. \/ 

School districts were directed to report to the Texas Education 
Agency on the results of their inspections, but the response was 
poor. As of February 1982, 1 year after the Texas Education 
Agency sent its letter, only 20 of 1,100 public school districts 
and 3* private schools had responded. Additionally, the Texas 
Education Agency has obtained laboratory analysis reports from the 
Departmient of Health for 81 public schopl. districts and' 31 private 
schools. However, the reports sometiipes' do not identify the school 
associated with a particular sample analysis. * When submitting . 
bulk samples to the department, school district officials do riot 
always identify the schools from which they were taken. 

The State coordinator estimated that he has spent about 10 
percent of his time on asbestos activities since 1979. Department 
of Health officials noted that three laboratory personnel and three 
other staff persons have worked on asbestos activities an estimated 
5 to 50 percent of their time. The laboratory personnel represent 
at least one full-time-equivalent. 

Since no statewide summary data was available on inspection 
activity by schools, we visited four independent school districts* 
— Austin, Dallas, Ft. Worth, and Houston. Three school districts 
—Austin, Ft. Worth, and Houston—have inspected all their scho'ol 
facilities. The Dallas school district did not inspect facilities 
built in 1970 or later. In these cases, construction records were 
reviewed to determine if asbestos material was used. In schools 
built before 1970, if school officials suspected the presence of 
asbestos material, a sample was taken by a school official and sent 
for laboratory analysis. 

Many private schools in Texas have been inspected for 
asbestos. The EPA Regional Office in Dallas, on request, has in- 
spected most of the Catholic diocese schools (about 250) in the 

1/The Texas Education Agency misinterpreted the act. It contains 
no such inspection requirement. 

FR?H 089177)