Buyers Beware of AsbestosAsbestos is not part of the ASTM (American Society for Testing and Materials) E 1527-05 Phase I Environmental Site Assessment (ESA). A Building Survey for Asbestos is an out-of-scope consideration under the industry standard ASTM 1527-05 Phase I ESA (see ASTM E 1527-05).
ASTM Standard E 2356-04 should be consulted by the owner or owners' agent to determine which type of asbestos building survey is appropriate, typically either a baseline survey or a design survey of functional areas. Both types of surveys are explained in detail under ASTM Standard E 2356-04. Typically, a baseline survey is performed by an EPA (or State) licensed asbestos inspector. The baseline survey provides the buyer with sufficient information on presumed asbestos at the facility; often this leads to reduction in the assessed value of the building (due primarily to forthcoming abatement costs). Note: EPA NESHAP (National Emissions Standards for Hazardous Air Pollutants) and OSHA (Occupational Safety and Health Administration) Regulations must be consulted in addition to ASTM Standard E 2356-04 to ensure all statutory requirements are satisfied, ex. notification requirements for renovation/demolition.
Asbestos is not a material covered under CERCLA (Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act ) Innocent Purchaser Defense. In some instances, the U.S. EPA includes asbestos contaminated facilities on the NPL (Superfund). Buyers should be careful not to purchase facilities, even with an ASTM E 1527-05 Phase I ESA completed, without a full understanding of all the hazards in a building or at a property, without evaluating non-scope ASTM E 1527-05 materials, such as asbestos, lead, PCBs, mercury, radon, et al. A standard ASTM E 1527-05 does not include asbestos surveys as standard practice.
Asbestos Law Heard by U.S. Supreme CourtAsbestos-related cases increased significantly on the U.S. Supreme Court docket after 1980. The Court has dealt with several asbestos-related cases since 1986. Two large class action settlements, designed to limit liability, came before the Court in 1997 and 1999. Both settlements were ultimately rejected by the Court because they would exclude future claimants, or those who later developed asbestos-related illnesses. Mesothelioma lawyers, victims, and advocates rejoiced over this ruling.
The Amchem Products v. Windsor et al and Ortiz v. Fireboard Corp. rulings addressed the 20-50 year latency period of serious asbestos-related illnesses such as asbestos cancer and mesothelioma..