Asbestos management: federal requirements for schools

Both public and non-profit private schools in North Carolina must comply with the Asbestos Hazard Emergency Response Act (AEHRA), an Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) law which sets forth regulations designed to protect students and staff from developing a potentially fatal asbestos-related disease. Charter schools and schools affiliated with religious institutions must also adhere to these regulations as well as any relevant state laws.

Any personnel dealing with asbestos must be trained and accredited through the EPA’s Asbestos Model Accreditation Plan. Typically, removal of asbestos that is already in place is not necessary unless it becomes disturbed, usually through demolition or renovation. The AEHRA requires schools to conduct inspections for asbestos-containing materials and prepare management plans outlining how action will be taken to prevent or reduce asbestos hazards. To comply with the AEHRA, schools must perform an initial inspection, followed by a re-inspection every three years.

A copy of the asbestos management plan must be kept at the school. Parents, teachers and employees or their representatives must be annually notified of its availability as well as any actions taken or planned by the school. The plan must include detailed information including the location and type of asbestos-containing material, the date of initial inspection as well as any plans for future inspections and a description of any response action or preventative measure taken to reduce asbestos exposure.

Schools are also required to ensure periodic inspections by licensed and trained professionals and provide staff with asbestos-awareness training. Finally, a contact person must be designated to ensure the proper implementation of the school’s responsibilities. Once a parent, teacher or school employee has requested to inspect the asbestos management plan, the school must make it available within five business days.