Asbestos is considered a hazardous material as, when broken, it remains stable in the environment causing irreversible damages to the lungs and other organs if inhaled.
The U.S. Department of Environmental Protection (DEP), requires the removal of any friable asbestos prior to the demolition or renovation of any building. In Pennsylvania, the removal of asbestos is strictly regulated by the Pennsylvania Department of Labor and Industry (PDA LI).
The PA DLI works closely with the DEP, and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), to regulate all aspects of asbestos handling in public and commercial buildings.
While the PDA LI regulates all asbestos removal projects at a state level, the EPA and DEP only regulate projects that fall under the National Emission Standard for Hazardous Air Pollutants (NESHAP) regulations.
Asbestos removal projects that fall under NESHAP regulations are those involving regulated facilities, residential buildings with five or more units, and buildings containing a particularly high amount of asbestos.
According to the Pennsylvania Asbestos Occupations Accreditation and Certification Act, all individuals involved in the removal of asbestos containing material, including workers, supervisors, project designers, inspectors, management planners, and contractors, must be officially trained and certified by the PA DLI.
Prior to demolition or renovation, any building containing asbestos must be thoroughly inspected by an inspector certified by the PA DLI.
Any institutional, commercial, public or industrial building as well as any residential building with at least five or more units is considered a regulated facility and falls under the NESHAP regulations. These require a notification postmarked or hand-delivered to DEP and EPA at least 10 working days prior to the start of the project, regardless of the presence of asbestos.
Non-regulated facilities are private residential buildings with four or fewer units. If the inspection of these buildings reveal a low content of friable asbestos--less than 260 linear feet, 160 square feet or 35 cubic feet--the PA DLI requires a five-day notification prior to the removal of any indoor friable asbestos.
In case the level of friable asbestos exceeds 160 square feet, the project falls under the NESHAP and will be affected by the same requirements enforced on regulated facilities.
Philadelphia and Allegheny Counties
In addition to the above federal and state regulations, Philadelphia and Allegheny Counties enforce a series of local regulations for the removal or asbestos in their territory.
More information on these regulations are available on the City of Philadelphia Public Health, and the Allegheny County Health Department websites (see Resources).