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E.P.A. Issues Final Regulations on School Asbestos

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Washington--The Enviromental Protection Agency last week issued the final version of sweeping regulations that require all public and private schools to inspect for asbestos by next October and to remove, contain, or monitor the cancer-causing substance when it is found.

The regulations, required under the asbestos-control measure enacted by the Congress last year, have been hotly debated within the education community. School officials and national education and labor groups have complained that districts will have to expend large amounts of money, time, and effort to comply with the law's strict provisions. (See Education Week, Oct. 21, 1987.)

Nearly all of the nation's 107,500 school buildings will be affected by the law.

The law requires districts by October 1988 to inspect all their buildings for friable and nonfriable asbestos-containing material using personnel certified by the state and by the epa

School officials will also be required to: develop management plans for each building and to submit them to state authorities by next October; begin implementing their plans by July 1989; and monitor every six months the condition of asbestos left in place.

At a press conference here last week, epa officials urged districts to begin implementing the new regulations as soon as possible. Susan Vogt, deputy director of the agency's office of toxic substances, said districts that delay may not be able to meet the law's deadlines.

Citing a possible shortage of accredited consultants, she said that ''people who wait until the summer will find themselves in a crunch."

A copy of the new rules was not available at press time. Agency officials said errors in a typed version of the regulations would delay their dissemination until this week. The new rules are expected to be published in the Federal Register by the end of the month.

At the same press conference, the epa announced that it had awarded a total of $5 million in grants to 12 states to help needy districts conduct inspections and to develop management plans.--ef

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