Asbestos is common in Arizona and was even mined there for some time. Naturally occurring asbestos, mining and the use of asbestos in heavy industry all contribute to the level of asbestos exposure in the state. Chrysotile asbestos, which accounts for 95% of the asbestos used in the United States occurs in naturally in staggering quantities across the state and was mined heavily before the true danger of asbestos exposure came to light. Asbestos mining ceased in 1982, reflecting an EPA ban on new asbestos containing building materials, but asbestos still remains in many structures around the state. Numerous mines across Arizona that are now shuttered remain potential hot spots for asbestos contamination.
Arizona asbestos and vermiculite
The worst asbestos contamination in the United States occurred in Libby, Montana where over two hundred people were sickened due to a vermiculite mine that was laced with Tremolite asbestos. Such was the contamination that people that lived in the town but did not work with the asbestos directly were sickened and the EPA designed the area a Superfund cleanup site. Arizona ties into that contamination as a great deal of ore from Libby, Montana was processed at the Ari-Zonolite Vermiculite Processing Plant. This building, even after it stopped processing vermiculite, was occupied until 2002.
Testing by the EPA would find that the soil and even the air still had traces of asbestos and that all that worked there and those that lived in a one mile radius were likely to be sick or sickened at a later point. This sort of exposure is typical in mining and industrial communities across the US.
Laws pertaining to asbestos in Arizona
In addition to federal guidelines regarding air quality, worker training and information on potential dangers, Arizona also maintains a set of Arizona asbestos laws to protect those that work with asbestos and track asbestos related illnesses. State authorities work to implement standards set by federal government in the Occupational Safety and Health Act.
The primary state agency that deals with asbestos cases is the Arizona Division of Occupational Safety and Health (ADOSH), which is a division of the Industrial Commission of Arizona. ADOSH is responsible for giving safety seminars in workplaces as well as conducting surprise inspections to ensure that Arizona asbestos laws are being adhered to and that working conditions are safe. Inspections may be random, or triggered by accidents, complaints, referrals or follow-up on previous violations.
Other state organizations that deal with Arizona asbestos laws
The Arizona Department of Environmental Quality (ADEQ) collects data and information on asbestos exposure and will be the organization that deal with requests for demolition of other matters related to abatement. The ADEQ has authority in most but not all Arizona counties. The largest counties have their own institutions for dealing with asbestos regulations and tribal lands will have help from federal enforcement.