October 2008 – AggBeat
by Kerry Clines, Senior Editor
Citing a new risk study, House Democrats, public health advocates, and labor officials are rejecting industry arguments that the House should adopt Senate legislation that would allow the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to permit products that contain up to 1 percent asbestos. The study’s findings show that road workers could still be exposed to dangerous levels of the carcinogen under the Senate bill, and those findings back a stricter House bill drafted by the House Environment & Hazardous Materials Subcommittee in February requiring the EPA to ban all asbestos-containing products, with an exception that would allow up to 0.25 percent asbestos in certain stone, sand, and gravel materials.
The new study, published in the September issue of the Journal of Occupational and Environmental Hygiene, analyzed worker exposure to naturally occurring asbestos fibers found in materials used in a road construction project in Alaska and found that, in some cases, workers were exposed to airborne asbestos concentrations above the Occupational Safety and Health Administration’s (OSHA) permissible exposure level (PEL), even though the road materials contained less than 1 percent asbestos. In addition, the study found that one worker would have been exposed to an airborne concentration more than double the PEL had his work scenario lasted for eight hours.
According to the study, while the study’s authors concluded that the airborne asbestos concentration the workers were exposed to was below the OSHA PEL for most tasks associated with constructing roads with asbestos-containing gravel, they were concerned that about 3 percent of the workers’ exposures were near or above the PEL.
In a July 11 letter obtained by Inside EPA, a coalition of industry groups, including the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, the National Mining Association, and the National Stone, Sand & Gravel Association, urge House lawmakers to abandon the draft legislation in favor of the Senate-approved bill, stating that enacting the House legislation could cost the nation hundreds of thousands of American jobs without improving protection of public health. The letter went on to say that the House legislation would cause companies that did not sell, process, or intentionally use asbestos to be subjected to litigation and criminal prosecution if asbestos was found in their product.
The House rejects the arguments in the industry letter, arguing that there is evidence that materials that contain less than 1 percent asbestos can cause dangerous exposure.
Cement from CO2
Brent Constantz says he has invented a green cement that could eliminate the carbon dioxide created by manufacturers of everyday cement used in concrete construction projects, according to an article in Scientific American.
Calera, a new Calif.-based company founded by Constantz, claims that by simply bubbling leftover fumes from natural gas-fired power plants through seawater, 90 percent of the CO2 produced can be used to make cement, turning a polluting substance into a way to reduce greenhouse gases. While Calera’s process of making calcium carbonate cement wouldn’t eliminate all CO2 emissions, it would greatly reduce them, Constantz says.
“For every ton of cement we make, we are sequestering half a ton of CO2,” he told Scientific American. “We probably have the best carbon capture and storage technique there is by a long shot.”
MORE FROM AggBeat
SUBSCRIBE & FOLLOW
- Former gravel quarry-turned-landfill transforms into nature reserve517 Views
- North Carolina grants Martin Marietta water quality certification for limestone quarry256 Views
- Vulcan-blocking bill dies in Alabama legislature251 Views
- Road restrictions may stop quarry construction in Kentucky214 Views
- Two suspects charged with arson in Jack’s Mountain Quarry case in Virginia128 Views