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Sun, Dec. 15

Many buildings still have asbestos in some form

Q: When I recently went to the city to pull a renovation permit, I was told I would have to check for asbestos and file a NESHAP permit. What is all of this about, since asbestos has been banned for years?-Tom In Prescott

A: The city is informing you that you need to check with the state to confirm that you are in compliance with NESHAP (National Emission Standards for Hazardous Air Pollutants). The Clean Air Act, which was passed by Congress in 1963 and was amended in 1970 and 1990, required that the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) establish NESHAP to check for all possible sources of 187 (current list) of federally listed hazardous air pollutants that may cause an increase in fatalities or cause serious irreversible incapacitating illnesses.

The EPA, through the establishment NESHAP, enforces regulations to protect the public from exposure of contaminants, asbestos being one of the 187 listed pollutants.

NESHAP, which regulates the generation and disposal of waste, wants to know when a commercial or public or multi-residential (four units or more) facility undergoes renovation (which affects load-bearing walls) or any demolition. If asbestos-containing building materials (ACBMs) are to be disturbed, NESHAP wants to know how they will be properly disposed and managed. If you are not sure ACBMs are in the building you are renovating, it is your job to find out before you start demolition.

Asbestos-contained building materials can still be purchased on the market today, so there is no relief date from NESHAP for determination and responsibility for filing permits and paperwork.

Going hand in hand with the NESHAP permit are the OSHA Worker Protection laws. OSHA's interest focuses on making sure contractors fully protect their workers from exposure by improper disturbance. Whereas NESHAP applies to commercial and public and multi-residential, OSHA has a broader brush, and any worker on any building where an asbestos exposure was documented can bring an employer into question.

ACBM abatement must be performed with properly trained staff using personal protection and specific management practices. OSHA's position is that certain building materials are presumed to be asbestos-containing unless you prove otherwise by using accredited samplers and licensed labs.

OSHA also has a multi-responsible party clause and if you have any involvement with the project and, especially if you are the building owner, you can be drawn into the line of fire.

While this sounds pretty burdensome and potentially costly, it can be even more so if an employee gets concerned about exposure and calls one of these agencies (which is the most frequently cause for their attention). OSHA and NESHAP investigate every complaint, event those made anonymously.

A basic misconception is that many people think newer buildings do not have ACBMs or such materials have already been removed from older buildings. This assumption can both cause exposure ricks when building materials are disturbed and can present liability or citation risks to the building owner, designer and contractor. In the mid 1970s, the EPA did ban some uses of asbestos; however, of the over 3,000 building products to which asbestos was added, it continued to be put into concrete products, vinyl and asphalt flooring, ceiling tiles, mastic adhesives, joint compounds, roofing materials, transite pipe, siding and more, and is still allowable by law. The only way building owners or employers can protect themselves is to have a proper building inspection of the facility before disturbance of any materials. What that means to you is that, no matter how old or new the building is, an asbestos survey is the only way to prove that there are no ACBMs in your building or properly manage those materials that are.

This is a simplified version of these two complex regulations. The bottom line is that it can be costly and present huge liability if they are disregarded.

The good news is that you have the opportunity to attend a free seminar with a free lunch discussing these laws and giving you an opportunity to ask questions. The seminar is being sponsored by the Arizona Chapter of Environmental Information Association and is scheduled for July 15 in the upstairs conference room of the Prescott Valley Civic Center. Please call 445-5010 to register. - Kathleen Frost, Western Technology, Prescott

Q: Are there rebates for gas-fired equipment?-Nellie in Prescott Valley

A: If you are planning to upgrade existing gas-fired equipment in an existing building to more efficient models or if you are building a new building with high-efficiency equipment, you may be eligible for a rebate. The efficient home heating program provides rebates toward the purchase of qualifying high-efficiency natural gas equipment replacing older inefficient furnaces. The amount of the rebate depends on the type and size of equipment you purchase.

You are eligible for the rebate if you are a Unisource Energy Services residential gas customer. The new furnace must be installed at a UES gas service address. The new furnace must have a minimum efficiency rating of 90 AFUE. Contact a participating HVAC contractor for an estimate. Once your furnace is installed, your HVAC contractor will mail a completed application with proof of purchase Unisource. UES will verify the equipment efficiency and then issue a check to you. The rebate amount is $325. -Gary Barret, Unisource Energy Services

Yavapai County Contractors Association (YCCA) is a professional association representing licensed, bonded and insured contractors, suppliers, distributors and business entities. YCCA, your local trusted referral source, can be reached at 778-0040 or at Don't start without us!

Submit your questions to and watch for your answer in the weekly real estate section of the Daily Courier.

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