California Asbestos Regulations

Asbestos has been mined for more than 4,000 years, but came into widespread industrial use toward the beginning of the 20th century for its heat and fire resistance. The natural, fibrous mineral was used in building materials, brake pads, and other applications where heat and fire resistance was crucial. But the use of asbestos plummeted in the 1970s after the public began to learn about its severe toxicity to humans. As it turned out, the inhalation of asbestos fibers caused severe and sometimes-terminal illnesses such as asbestosis (scarring of the lungs), lung cancer, and mesothelioma (a particularly lethal form of cancer).

In addition to exposure from buildings and in certain occupations, California also has a substantial amount of naturally occurring asbestos (NOA). For instance, the entire town of Coalinga, where asbestos was once heavily mined and processed, received Superfund status from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).

But while restrictions on the mining and industrial use of asbestos have greatly reduced exposure, the substance persists in aging buildings, mining sites, and other places throughout the country. Furthermore, those exposed decades ago are still discovering asbestos-related illnesses they didn't know they had.

Since asbestos can cause serious illness, and the fact that it still remains in heavily populated areas, its removal and handling is strictly regulated by both federal and state law.

California Asbestos Regulations at a Glance

Statutes
Asbestos Regulatory Agencies

Federal:

California:

Cal/OSHA Asbestos Contractor Registration

Asbestos Registration

Asbestos Removal Regulations

Conditions Triggering Registration Requirements:

  • Asbestos-containing construction materials (ACCM)- The work involves any manufactured construction material which contains more than 1/10th of 1% asbestos by weight.
  • Asbestos-related work- The activity, by disturbing asbestos-containing construction materials (ACCM), may release asbestos fibers into the air and is not related to its manufacture, the mining or excavation of asbestos-bearing ore or materials.
  • Size of job- The square footage of ACCM involved must equal or exceed 100 sq. ft. at a single worksite.

Rules for work involving less than 100 sq. ft. of ACCM:

  • The employer must send a simple "report of use" to Cal/OSHA. Reports of use are also required for manufacturing and other general industry settings. See 8 CCR Section 5203, the Carcinogen Report of Use Requirements.

Note: State regulations are always subject to change through the passage of new legislation, rulings in the higher courts (including federal decisions), ballot initiatives, and other means. While we strive to provide the most current information available, please consult an attorney or conduct your own legal research to verify the state law(s) you are researching.

California Asbestos Regulations: Related Resources

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