Earlier posts here,here,here and here.
From the El Dorado Hills Telegraph June 29, 2005
Chicken Little Comes to El Dorado Hills
Where asbestos is concerned it appears Chicken Little has come to El Dorado Hills. I came to this conclusion based on three factors, government regulations, conditions in El Dorado Hills and how El Dorado Hills compares to Libby, Montana.
The EPA regulates airborne asbestos in schools. These regulations are expected to keep children and adults safe. El Dorado Hills is almost 100 times safer than EPA school regulations require.
Libby, Montana, where asbestos illnesses occurred, had conditions over a million times worse than El Dorado Hills and 100,000 times worse than EPA regulations require.
OSHA and EPA both have asbestos regulations. OSHA regulates exposure in the workplace. EPA regulates exposure in schools. Neither regulates asbestos exposures in the home.
The OSHA limits for workplace exposure to asbestos are 1 fiber per 10 cubic centimeters of air. (.1f/cc) The EPA limit for school exposure iss an average of 1 fiber per 100 cubic centimeters of air. (.01f/cc)
I used the stricter school EPA limit when considering the risk in El Dorado Hills. In El Dorado Hills, the EPA collected and tested air samples in two ways. The PCME method is the acronym for the type of microscope used and AHERA is the acronym for the asbestos in schools regulation.
The EPA PCME tests found average reference exposures of less the 1 fiber per 1,000 cubic centimeters of air (.0008f/cc) , much safer (than) the EPA requirement. Activity level exposure monitoring in EL Dorado Hills showed an average exposure also much safer (than) the EPA requirement (.00938f/cc).
Only in five specific areas while engaged in dust creating activities did personal exposures exceed the OSHA limit.
The EPA AHERA tests did not follow the AHERA testing definitions in El Dorado Hills. In a mailing to the public the EPA footnoted the discrepancy without noting the results published would show a significantly higher fiber count due to this failure to follow the AHERA definition. Nonetheless the average reference exposure was still well below the EPA limit.
El Dorado Hills has been compared to Libby, Montana where there were many asbestos related illnesses. The conditions in Libby, Montana were significantly worse than in El Dorado Hills.
At one of the first public meetings I requested information about the exposures in Libby, Montana. According to the information provided, air monitoring showed the average reference asbestos exposure in Libby, Montana to be one fiber per ten cubic centimeters (.1f/cc) almost 1,000 times greater (than the) El Dorado Hills average and 10 times the EPA limit for schools.
Additionally, air monitoring also showed that dust creating activities in Libby, Montana resulted in exposures as high as 1000f/cc – 100,000 times the EPA limit and more than a million times greater than the El Dorado Hills exposures. A very significant difference. In comparison the asbestos hazard in El Dorado Hills appears minimal.
From this perspective, El Dorado Hills is almost 100 times safer than the strictest regulations and one million times safer than Libby, Montana.
No health professional will say El Dorado Hills is perfectly safe because we are dealing with a carcinogen.
Nonetheless, we deal with carcinogens on a daily basis. Sunlight, dental x-rays and benzene in gasoline are carcinogens. Yet we play in the sum, go to the dentist and put gasoline in our cars. That is because established regulations to keep the cancerous risk low.
In El Dorado Hills we are safely well with the regulations. Hopefully, it puts things in perspective.
Steve Smith, Health and Safety Inspector, retired