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Iowa’s asbestos inspectors overloaded

By Jason Clayworth, http://www.desmoinesregister.com

contained asbestosA contractor’s complaint has prompted closer scrutiny of possible asbestos exposure involving workers at a downtown Des Moines renovation project, but an inspector doesn’t even visit hundreds of sites across Iowa each year where workers could face risks from the cancer-causing material.

The routine lack of asbestos-handling inspections at construction sites in Iowa and across the nation represents a widespread failure to protect the public, environmental safety advocates say.

In Iowa, one inspector enforces U.S. Environmental Protection Agency asbestos removal regulations and oversees as many as 4,500 asbestos removal projects each year. Another inspector must try to enforce federal Occupational Safety and Health Administration asbestos regulations.

“It’s safe to say that enforcement of asbestos regulations nationwide is abysmal,” said Brent Kynoch of the Environmental Information Association, a group based in Maryland focused on health hazards in buildings, specifically asbestos.

“There are no budgets with either the state or federal governments to put the kind of inspection staff out there that we really would require to enforce the regulations,” Kynoch said.  Read More

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