EPA's Asbestos Accreditation Program Requirements Need Strengthening

RCED-91-86: Published: May 9, 1991. Publicly Released: Jun 6, 1991.

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Pursuant to a congressional request, GAO reviewed the training and accreditation of asbestos inspection and abatement personnel, focusing on the: (1) status of state accreditation programs; and (2) adequacy of the Environmental Protection Agency's (EPA) Model Accreditation Plan.

GAO found that: (1) although legislation required states to establish an accreditation program by 1989, only 31 states had an accreditation program for all five asbestos disciplines; (2) although EPA reviews and approval of state programs were not mandatory, 18 states have voluntarily obtained EPA approval of their programs; (3) mandatory EPA approval of all state programs for all five disciplines would help to ensure that the accreditation programs complied with EPA model plan minimum requirements; (4) there were a number of problems with school asbestos inspections, management plans, and abatement efforts, which state and local officials believed were linked to asbestos personnel's limited education and experience; and (5) the EPA model plan included no education or experience requirements.

Matter for Congressional Consideration

  1. Status: Closed - Not Implemented

    Comments: No congressional action has been taken or planned. Congress does not want to pass legislation making this a requirement, but it would rather rely on the states' voluntary participation in the program. A majority of the states have already received EPA approval of their state accreditation programs.

    Matter: To ensure that each state's asbestos accreditation program is designed in accordance with the EPA model program and covers at least all five EPA disciplines, Congress should consider requiring EPA approval of state accreditation programs, providing incentives to the states to assist them in starting programs, and setting a new deadline for the states to establish accreditation programs.

Recommendation for Executive Action

  1. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: EPA gave serious consideration to the recommendation to access the need for requiring individuals working in the asbestos professions to meet prequalification and experience standards and EPA will continue to support these requirements at the state level, but it will not make them mandatory. In a meeting with the states, state officials asked EPA not to require prequalification requirements.

    Recommendation: To ensure the availability of qualified and experienced individuals to perform asbestos abatement activities properly, the Administrator, EPA, should assess the need for requiring individuals working in the asbestos professions to meet prequalification and experience standards. This assessment should be performed in conjunction with the revision of training requirements mandated by the 1990 law extending the accreditation program to public and commercial buildings.

    Agency Affected: Environmental Protection Agency


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