Oregon Takes One More Step to Protect Residents From Asbestos Exposure

Posted on January 26, 2016

Officials in Oregon are working hard to keep residents of the state safe from exposure to asbestos. Last month we reported on an Oregon bill requiring an asbestos survey prior to demolition of homes. Now, the Metropolitan Planning Organization for the Portland area has issued a new process for commercial haulers dumping material in public disposal sites to certify the load asbestos-free.

According to an announcement on OregonMetro.gov, prior to dumping any materials containing construction, remodeling or demolition debris appropriate documents must be filled out and presented to the bay spotter. Each load will be inspected to ensure it matches the information provided in the documentation. All documentation will be maintained by Metro.

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency reports there is no safe level of exposure. While the use of asbestos has been curbed in the United States since the late 1970s, the substance is still not banned in the U.S. Asbestos was used in a variety of construction materials prior to the 1980s. Asbestos can be found in older homes and public buildings in the roofing shingles, ceiling and floor tiles, paper products, and cement products, as well as in many other products.

The Oregon Metro policy states in part:

“To protect the health and safety of its employees and customers, Metro’s transfer stations are requiring new documentation about asbestos from all customers.

Commercial haulers with drop-box loads of construction, remodeling and demolition debris must certify that their loads are asbestos free.

Loads of construction and demolition debris brought in by construction contractors and residential DIY-remodelers will be thoroughly screened for asbestos by transfer station staff. Loads with any material suspected of containing asbestos without proper documentation will be turned away.”

The management and removal of asbestos products requires work by a certified asbestos contractor. For a list of accredited asbestos inspectors, analytical laboratories and information about proper handling and disposal of asbestos contact the Oregon Department of Environmental Quality.

Failure to comply with the policy could result in fines, clean-up fees and exclusion from Metro facilities.

Asbestos is a known carcinogen and is shown to cause lung cancer, mesothelioma and other respiratory illnesses. Mesothelioma is a terminal cancer for which few treatment options are available. The disease develops slowly after microscopic asbestos fibers are inhaled or ingested. It can be decades before symptoms present themselves and the cancer is diagnosed. Past asbestos exposure leads to nearly 3,000 mesothelioma diagnoses in the U.S. each year.

The tragedy of mesothelioma is that the disease is completely preventable through the ban of asbestos. Oregon officials are taking a proactive stance in keeping the public safe by keeping asbestos away from them and forcing proper disposal of the toxic material.