The Asbestos Hazardous Emergency Response Act (AHERA) was established by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to protect students, educators, and staff from exposure to asbestos in schools. The AHERA regulations require schools to perform asbestos inspections, maintain an asbestos management plan, and provide asbestos-awareness training for custodial and building services staff.
What is Asbestos?
Asbestos is a mineral fiber that has been used in building construction materials for insulation and as a fire retardant. If these materials are disturbed or damaged in any way, asbestos fibers can be released into the air and breathed in. Exposure to asbestos fibers increases the risk of developing health effects—such as lung cancer, mesothelioma, and asbestosis. Learn more about asbestos and the health effects from exposure to asbestos fibers.
The EPA has specific regulations regarding the handling of asbestos-containing materials in schools. The AHERA was established by the EPA to require public school districts and non-profit schools to:
- Perform an original inspection to determine whether asbestos-containing materials are present and then re-inspect asbestos containing material in each school every three years
- Develop, maintain, and update an asbestos management plan and keep a copy at the school
- Provide custodial staff with asbestos awareness training
- Provide yearly notification to parent, teacher, and employee organizations on the availability of the school's asbestos management plan and any asbestos-related actions taken or planned in the school
- Designate a contact person to ensure the responsibilities of the public school district or the non-profit school are properly implemented
- Perform periodic surveillance of known or suspected asbestos-containing materials
- Ensure that trained and licensed professionals perform inspections and take response actions
More information on AHERA regulations:
Public and non-profit schools are required to develop, maintain and update asbestos management plans and to keep a copy at each individual school. These plans are required to document the recommended asbestos response actions, the location of asbestos within the school, and any action taken to repair and remove the material.
Parents, teachers, and school employees have the right to review the school’s asbestos management plan. Schools are required to notify parent-teacher organizations once a year about the availability of the school’s asbestos management plan and any asbestos-related activities taking place within the school.
More information about the development and implementation of an AHERA Management Plan:
- The Asbestos Model Accreditation Plan
- School Asbestos Management Plan Requirements
- How to Manage Asbestos in School Buildings: The AHERA Designated Person’s Self Study Guide
- Asbestos and School Buildings—EPA
- Model AHERA Management Plan for Local Education Agencies
- AHERA Asbestos Management Plan – Self Audit Checklist for Designated Persons
Asbestos may be a health risk if it is damaged or disturbed during building renovations or by a demolition. It is important to contain and handle asbestos and remove it appropriately to avoid exposure to airborne asbestos fibers.
The Health Department and EPA have specific asbestos-related requirements for school maintenance, repair, renovation, and demolition. These requirements ensure that asbestos-containing materials are handled safely during renovations to prevent asbestos-related health risks.
Prior to maintenance, repairs, renovation or demolition, the school’s AHERA-Designated person should be contacted to review the school’s management plan and contract for asbestos professional services as necessary.
Vermont-licensed contractors must perform all asbestos-related services in schools. Licensed asbestos contractors are trained to prevent asbestos-related health risks during renovation or demolition.
Find out more information on Vermont regulations for the handling of asbestos containing materials.
More information about maintaining a healthy school environment during building renovations:
Call the Asbestos and Lead Regulatory Program to obtain a copy of these resources at 802-863-7220 or 800-439-8550 (toll-free in Vermont).