Lansing, MI, February 11th, 2019 -- Less than two months ago, the U.S. Government Accountability Office (GAO) publicly released a document sent to the Subcommittee on Oversight in the U.S. House of Representatives. The 17 page report, Asbestos in GSA Buildings: Improved Data Would Enhance Oversight, was produced to inform Congress of the GAO’s ability to assess the extent to which the General Service Administration (GSA) collects and maintains information on the location and condition of asbestos in its office buildings. It also describes regulations that are designed to protect workers from asbestos and the circumstances under which federal workers have been exposed.
In 2015, GSA implemented a policy regarding asbestos documentation and management in a large percentage of the buildings that are under the agency’s control. The policy requires GSA to survey all of its buildings constructed before 1998 to identify asbestos, enter this information into its asbestos database, and re-inspect the condition of asbestos-containing materials on an annual basis.
GAO analyzed this asbestos database in the report sent to Congress. It found that asbestos-related data were not entered for 66% (289 of 436) of GSA’s office buildings. In response, a GSA representative brought up shortcomings in the database interface and the fact that only one GSA employee is typically designated to enter the data.
“Since GSA provides real estate management and other services to the federal government, it’s imperative that all workers in these office buildings are safe from exposure to respirable asbestos fibers,” said Dirk Yamamoto, PhD, CIH® and Chair of ABIH®. “The 2015 GSA policy to survey older buildings and collect data is a key component in these efforts. This report to Congress is also a reminder to workers everywhere that inspections and testing could help prevent countless future cases of mesothelioma, asbestosis, and lung cancer associated with exposure to this known carcinogen.”
The American Board of Industrial Hygiene® encourages agencies, companies, and organizations to utilize Certified Industrial Hygienists (CIHs) in order to better quantify and manage risks involving worker and community exposure to asbestos. To learn more about ABIH®, the Certified Industrial Hygienist® credential, or to locate a CIH® to perform asbestos or other industrial hygiene services, please visit www.ABIH.org or email abih@ABIH.org. Please call (517) 321-2638 for questions about ABIH® or its credentials and designations.
About the American Board of Industrial Hygiene®
Since 1960, ABIH®, a not-for-profit corporation, has been the world's largest organization for certifying professionals in the practice of industrial hygiene. ABIH® is the premier credentialing body responsible for ensuring high-quality certification including education, experience, examination, certification maintenance, and ethics enforcement. ABIH® also administers the Qualified Environmental Professional (QEP®) credential for established environmental practitioners and the Environmental Professional In-Training (EPI) designation for early-career practitioners. Currently, more than 7,600 people around the world hold the CIH® credential, QEP® credential, or EPI designation.