In 1984, the Asbestos School Hazard Abatement Act (ASHAA) was established by Ronald Regan, making funding available to schools with a significant asbestos hazard and need for financial assistance. The ASHAA not only aimed to reduce the risk of asbestos exposure, but also made funding and assistance from local government agencies available where needed. Under this Act, employees would not be penalized for bringing possible asbestos-containing materials to their school’s attention.
In 1986, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) crafted regulations in accordance with the Asbestos Hazard Emergency Response Act (AHERA). According to the EPA, the AHERA requires local educational agencies to inspect schools for asbestos-containing materials, prepare asbestos management plans, and perform asbestos response actions to reduce asbestos hazards. Under the AHERA, the EPA must also provide states with a model accreditation plan for persons conducting asbestos inspections and corrective actions in schools.
The AHERA requires compliance from all local educational agencies and public and private non-profit elementary and secondary schools. Pursuant to the AHERA, the Asbestos-Containing Materials in Schools rule requires local education agencies to conduct training, inspections, and sampling, and annually notify parents, teachers, and employee organizations of all asbestos-related activities.
Designated persons are the key players in the success of individual school’s AHERA compliance. A designated person, assigned by their school district or local education agency, is responsible for ensuring their school’s compliance with the AHERA and overseeing all asbestos-related activities. This person is also responsible for ensuring their school has an up-to-date asbestos management plan, and he/she serves as a resource for the school’s community.
To determine if your school is in compliance with the AHERA, contact your school’s designated person and ask to see a copy of the school’s asbestos management plan. Under the AHERA, the Asbestos-Containing Materials in Schools Rule requires that a school make their asbestos management plan available to the public within five working days of a request. It is important that a school’s community is familiar with their designated person and can work together to make their school safe for students, workers, and parents.
For further information about the asbestos and prevention program at the Meso Foundation, visit curemeso.org/asbestos.