Asbestos Removal Regulations in New York

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In New York, a property owner must engage in the abatement and removal of asbestos-containing materials (ACMs) in compliance with federal, state and city regulations. Abatement means following procedures to prevent the release of asbestos fibers into the air.

Remediation is a term used to describe the removal of waste, such as asbestos, from a contaminated site. Federal regulations include asbestos-related laws from the U.S Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).

New York State Asbestos Laws

State regulations include rules promulgated by the New York State Department of Health (NYSDOH), the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (NYSDEC), and the New York State Department of Labor (NYSDOL), particularly projects covered by Code Rule 56.

This rule covers removal of asbestos material. City regulations include asbestos control program regulations from the New York City Department of Environmental Protection (DEP).

Basics of Asbestos Removal in NY

Asbestos material that is in good condition should be left alone. Asbestos material in poor condition must be removed by specially trained and equipped workers who must be certified and licensed according to New York state laws, as regulated by NYSDOL. Unless a property owner or their agents are trained and equipped to remove asbestos, they cannot perform the task.

Asbestos Handling Certifications

The nine state certifications for workers who can remove asbestos are:

  • Asbestos handler.
  • Restricted asbestos handler.
  • Air sampling technician.
  • Inspector.
  • Management planner.
  • Operations and maintenance.
  • Supervisor/contractor.
  • Project monitor.
  • Project designer.

In certain cities, such as Buffalo, asbestos abatement can be done only by an asbestos abatement contractor that is licensed with the city.

In order to be certified by NYSDOL, asbestos workers or supervisors must complete training courses approved by the NYSDOH. The courses teach safety procedures to ensure that asbestos fibers are not released into the air. Employers must comply with notice and record-keeping requirements.

After a property owner has completed the asbestos containing abatement process, they must engage in air testing and monitoring before restricted work areas can be reoccupied.

Exemption for Homeowners

Asbestos abatement requirements do not apply to owner-occupied, single-family dwellings in which the owner does the work. In such cases, three conditions must be met:

  1. Structure is a single-family dwelling.
  2. Dwelling is occupied or will be occupied by the homeowner.
  3. Work is performed solely by the homeowner.

A structure set to be demolished is not considered occupied, and is not eligible for the homeowner exemption. A corporation, contractor or flipper who plans to sell or rent the dwelling is not considered an owner and they are not eligible for this exemption.

Proper Disposal of Asbestos

Friable materials are items that can be easily crumbled by the power of a human hand. Pipe and boiler insulation are usually considered friable materials.

Friable asbestos-containing waste generated in New York state must be transported to a solid waste transfer facility. This is a facility where waste is received, consolidated and taken to another facility for processing or disposal. Alternatively, friable asbestos-containing waste may be transported to a municipal solid waste (MSW) landfill.

Questions about the transportation of asbestos-containing materials should be directed to the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation, Division of Materials Management, Part 364 Waste Transporter Permit Program at 518-402-8792.

Questions about asbestos disposal are appropriate for the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation, Division of Materials Management, Bureau of Solid Waste Management at 518-402-8678.

Non-friable Asbestos Disposal

Non-friable asbestos-containing waste generated in New York State can be taken to a solid waste transfer facility, a permitted construction and demolition debris handling and recovery facility, a MSW landfill, or a construction and demolition debris landfill.

These facilities are prohibited from handling or processing the waste in a manner that would cause the waste to crumble, pulverize or be reduced to powder. Most non-friable ACM comes from construction and demolition debris.

Questions about disposal of this material are also appropriate for the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation, Division of Materials Management, Bureau of Solid Waste Management.

Report Disturbed or Exposed Asbestos

Outside of New York City (NYC), a person can report disturbed or exposed asbestos to their county department of health. In NYC, generally, a person can report disturbed or exposed asbestos to the New York City Department of Health (NYC Health). A person should report disturbed or exposed asbestos in a New York City Housing Authority (NYCHA) public housing building to the NYCHA customer contact center.

Disturbed asbestos may be the result of removal, handling or renovations. Asbestos piled or placed in the trash or in dumpsters is considered disturbed asbestos. Exposed asbestos is also called in-place asbestos.

Guidelines for Making Complaints

An exposed asbestos complaint should not cover asbestos disturbed by removal, handling or renovations. A person can make a complaint about exposed asbestos in a home or a shared area of a multiple dwelling like a lobby or hallway or in a business or school.

A person reporting asbestos may provide NYC Health with a picture or video attachments of the asbestos. A DEP inspector must personally observe a condition in order to issue a summons or the DEP Commissioner’s order. A property owner anticipating asbestos abatement must formally notify DEP at least seven days before starting abatement.

Activities That Expose Asbestos

Activities that can disturb or expose asbestos include:

  • Demolition.
  • Construction.
  • Renovation.
  • Removal of materials that may contain asbestos.

The list of materials that include asbestos includes flooring, insulation material, fireproofing material, roofing products, wall and ceiling materials, and adhesives. Such materials may be wholly or partially removed during home or commercial property repair.

Exposure to Asbestos

If there is an accidental asbestos exposure, certain steps should be taken. Steps 1 through 6 below can be taken around the time of the incident; steps 7 and 8 can be taken later.

  1. Evacuate the area as soon as possible unless there is dust or debris on a person’s clothing.
  2. If there is asbestos material on a person’s clothing, they should stay in the area of exposure. They should request help and put on respiratory protective equipment to minimize their risk. They should not move around. Movement will spread the asbestos fibers.
  3. After the person who has been exposed leaves the area in a safe way, they should visit a hospital to be evaluated and treated.
  4. Prevent access to the area.
  5. Notify the property owner.
  6. Report the incident to the appropriate authorities, such as DEP.
  7. Have a trained specialist sample the material. They should advise the removing party and property owner on the type of asbestos and risk level.
  8. Clean up and remove the asbestos.

Typically, ACMs must be removed before demolition occurs at any site. At times, they must be removed before the interior tear-out to prepare for renovations in a building. In certain cities, such as Buffalo, an asbestos survey of a site must be done before any work begins on a building built before a certain year, here, 1974.