Michigan Laws on Asbestos Siding Removal

By LD Withaar - Updated August 27, 2018
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Lincoln Hall, an Australian mountain climber, was best known for summiting Mount Everest in 2006 and, incredibly, surviving a night alone at 28,543 feet after he succumbed to altitude sickness. He seemed invincible. But six years later, he died at 56 of mesothelioma, an aggressive, deadly cancer caused by asbestos exposure. Asbestos can cause several serious diseases, but mesothelioma is probably best known because of the glut of television commercials featuring lawyers offering to handle your case.

Asbestos has been used in many different construction materials, including insulation, floor tile, roofing materials and siding, just to name a few. Due to federal and state regulations, most of the products that used to be made with asbestos no longer are. However, there is still risk of exposure to it. Michigan’s laws, which mirror federal Environmental Protection Agency regulations, are designed to mitigate the risk.

Friable versus Non Friable Asbestos

There are two types of asbestos: friable and non friable. Friable asbestos is the one that causes the most trouble. When dry, it can be reduced to a powder, so it’s easily released into the air where people can breathe it. Friable asbestos was commonly used in the backing of vinyl siding. The non-friable asbestos definition is asbestos that’s bound to other materials. If left undisturbed, this type is less likely to be released into the air, so it generally poses less of a health risk.

Familiarize Yourself With Michigan’s Laws

The state’s Construction Safety and Health Division's Asbestos Program oversees training requirements for people who work with asbestos. It also enforces regulations that govern how people work. Michigan’s laws on asbestos removal are meant to protect employees working with asbestos and the general public that might be living or working in buildings where an asbestos removal project is underway.

Contractors who want to do asbestos removal in Michigan have to be licensed. Without a Michigan license for asbestos removal, they’re allowed to remove it only when it’s incidental to their primary trade and is no more than 160 square feet or no more than 260 linear feet of material.

In addition to licensing requirements, contractors have to notify Michigan’s Department of Licensing and Regulatory Affairs in writing at least 10 days before starting most asbestos removal jobs. If the job is 15 square feet or less, or 10 linear feet or less of friable asbestos (the most dangerous kind), alerting LARA is not required. Either way, the job must be carried out according to the state’s laws and regulations. This includes protecting yourself, workers and the public from exposure.

Michigan also requires a follow-up check on air quality when the job is done. A third, independent party has to be hired to do this. LARA also investigates complaints. If an asbestos abatement contractor violates any state regulations, he could have his license revoked and be subject to hefty fines.

Asbestos Inspection Requirements

In addition, National Emission Standards for Hazardous Air Pollutants may also apply. A NESHAP asbestos inspection requirement before work even starts may be necessary. Most structures subject to NESHAP regulations are public, like bridges, tunnels, schools and malls. However, NESHAP regulations do apply to apartment buildings with five or more units as well as some condominiums.

Asbestos Siding Removal in Michigan

Homeowner asbestos removal in Michigan is allowed. But, considering the amount of preparation, equipment and cleanup involved, you may want to consider leaving it to the pros. Asbestos can be very dangerous if not properly handled. You have to have head-to-toe protective clothing, including a respirator. You have to keep the asbestos wet while you’re removing it and afterward until it is safely sealed in plastic. Then you have to find a place to get rid of it that’s authorized to take hazardous materials.

It takes only a single exposure to asbestos to get mesothelioma and other lung diseases. Symptoms may show up 10 to 50 years after exposure. Hall’s illness was traced to childhood exposure. He had once helped his father build a couple of children’s playhouses with sheets made of asbestos cement.

Some professional asbestos abatement companies often offer free testing to confirm that your siding does, indeed, contain asbestos. Sometimes, leaving asbestos in place is safer than trying to remove it. One method of dealing with siding that contains asbestos is to cover it with vinyl siding. An asbestos abatement professional can advise you.

About the Author

LeDona Withaar has over 16 years’ experience in the legal services industry. She worked in the National Association of Securities Dealers alternative dispute resolution program and later ran its mediation program for the western U.S. She was a securities compliance specialist in Capital Group’s legal department and later handled building code and ADA compliance at a commercial interior design firm. LeDona has an MBA from Simmons College in Boston, Massachusetts and a BA from Mills College in Oakland, California. She currently owns and operates her own small business in addition to writing for business and legal publications.

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