Asbestos, and asbestos-containing materials, are subject to regulation in the United States by both the federal government and each of the 50 state governments. This paper summarizes the federal government asbestos regulations which apply to the use of asbestos, asbestos-containing products, and asbestos fiber releases, in the workplace and in the ambient environment. It also briefly sets forth asbestos regulations promulgated by the State of Minnesota, the State of California, the State of New York, and the State of Texas as representative examples of state action concerning asbestos.
The principal federal government agencies that deal with asbestos regulation are the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) and the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). Generally, OSHA regulations apply to regulate asbestos exposures, and potential asbestos exposures, in the occupational workplace while EPA regulations apply to asbestos exposures, and potential asbestos exposures, in nonoccupational settings. Both agencies set regulatory levels for allowable asbestos exposure. Those levels have changed, in a decreasing progression, since their enactment in the early 1970s. This paper discusses those levels and traces their progression over time.