Kean Says New Jersey Will Adopt Toughest Asbestos Standards

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Gov. Thomas Kean of New Jersey said this month that his state will lead the nation in tough environmental standards for asbestos when proposals made by his asbestos-policy committee are adopted later this year.

Lower Limit Proposed

The proposals--which include a limit on airborne asbestos fibers in occupied buildings that is 660 times lower than federal limits for workplace environments--were revealed Oct. 4 when the committee released its interim report.

The Occupational Safety and3Health Administration currently requires that no more than 2 fibers per cubic centimeter of air be present in workplace environments. The federal agency is proposing to lower that level to 0.5 or 0.2 fibers.

The New Jersey policy committee has proposed that no more than 0.003 fibers per cubic centimeter of air be present in buildings before they are certified for re-occupancy.

The committee is also recommending the establishment of strict regulations for the training and licensing of asbestos-removal workers; a set of procedures to be used when considering whether asbestos should be removed from a building; minimum specifications for work6practices; and a plan that describes the authority of each state agency in asbestos-related matters.

State To Set 'Standard'

"The federal government has not done what we're doing here," Mr. Kean said at a press conference. "No other state has. From now on, New Jersey will be the standard. We will now be the state others will look to, including the federal government."

According to Paul Wolcott, the Governor's deputy press secretary, "virtually all" of the proposals made by the policy committee can be instituted through regulation.

"Some of the licensing matters might require legislation," he added, "but this is not a political issue. I don't see it as a problem. It is not an issue in which the two parties have partisan stands."

Governor Kean said the proposals, when adopted, "will reduce confusion, subjectivity by individual inspectors, and will help make sure that the most appropriate solution to an asbestos problem is chosen."

Contractor Certification

Under the proposals, the New Jersey Department of Health would be the lead agency in coordinating asbestos-control projects.

It is designated to certify consultants and laboratories; train and certify asbestos-removal workers and those who will instruct them; take bulk and air samples to determine the level of asbestos in a building; evaluate the presence of asbestos; and formulate an appropriate remediation or management plan on a case-by-case basis.

Asbestos-removal workers would be required to complete a 32-hour training course, instead of the current four-hour course, and to pass a written test.

The asbestos policy committee, which is chaired by J. Richard Goldstein, the state health commissioner, is expected to release its final report by the end of the year.

Vol. 04, Issue 07

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