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Michigan Governor’s Budget May Cut Asbestos Safety Inspections

Under pressure to cut costs as part of Michigan Governor Jennifer Granholm’s proposed budget, the Department of Environmental Quality may no longer be able to monitor compliance with asbestos safety regulations in buildings slated for renovation or demolition.

Asbestos, once a popular material in the construction industry, is known to cause a long list of serious health problems, including an aggressive cancer called mesothelioma. Removal and handling of asbestos is heavily regulated by federal law.

In 2008, the Department’s Air Quality Division conducted nearly 500 inspections, the majority of them unannounced, resulting in 53 violation notices. Though fines for breaking asbestos guidelines are low, a violation often exposes those involved to costly lawsuits from affected individuals.

However, the $350,000 program, which is primarily funded by the state, may no longer be able to exist under the Department’s new budget. If the inspection program is dismantled, Michigan would become one of only a few states (and the only one in the region) to rely on the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) for asbestos enforcement. The EPA believes that states are better staffed and better located to conduct asbestos inspections, according to George Czerniak, chief of air enforcement at the Agency’s regional office.

Czerniak could not say whether the EPA would be able to carry out as many inspections as the Department of Environmental Quality.

Contact Williams Hart

The mesothelioma attorneys at Williams Hart have been helping victims of asbestos exposure for over 25 years. For more information on asbestos safety regulations, or to schedule a consultation with our experienced legal team, contact our offices at 800-781-3955.

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