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DOL/MSHA RIN: 1219-AB24 Publication ID: Fall 2007
Title: Asbestos Exposure Limit
Abstract: MSHA?s permissible exposure limit (PEL) for asbestos applies to surface (30 CFR part 56) and underground (30 CFR part 57) metal and nonmetal mines and to surface coal mines and surface areas of underground coal mines (30 CFR part 71). MSHA proposed a rule to lower the asbestos PELs to an 8-hour time-weighted average of 0.1 fiber per cubic centimeter (f/cc) of air and the excursion limit to 1.0 f/cc of air as averaged over a 30 minute sampling period, which would reduce asbestos-induced occupational disease among miners. The proposed PELs are the same as the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA?s) PELs.

Agency: Department of Labor(DOL) Priority: Other Significant
RIN Status: Previously published in the Unified Agenda Agenda Stage of Rulemaking: Final Rule Stage
Major: No Unfunded Mandates: No
CFR Citation: 30 CFR 56; 30 CFR 57; 30 CFR 71
Legal Authority: 30 USC 811; 30 USC 813
Legal Deadline: None

Statement of Need: Current scientific data indicate that MSHA's existing asbestos PEL is not sufficiently protective of miners? health. MSHA's asbestos regulations date to 1967 and are based on the Bureau of Mines (MSHA's predecessor) standard of 5 million particles per cubic foot of air (mppcf). Other Federal agencies have addressed this issue by lowering their asbestos PELs. These lower limits reflect new information and studies that compare asbestos-related disease risk to the number of asbestos-exposed workers.

Summary of the Legal Basis: Promulgation of this regulation is authorized by section 101 of the Federal Mine Safety and Health Act of 1977.

Alternatives: The Agency increased sampling to determine miners? exposure levels to asbestos. In early 2000, MSHA began an extensive sampling effort at operations with potential asbestos exposure including taking samples at all existing vermiculite, taconite, talc, and other mines to determine the level of asbestos present. While sampling, MSHA staff also discussed various potential hazards of asbestos with miners and mine operators and the types of preventive measures that could be implemented to reduce exposures. The final rule will be based on comments and testimony to the proposed rule as well as MSHA sampling and inspection experience.

Anticipated Costs and Benefits: The anticipated costs of the proposed rule to the mining industry would be approximately $136,000 annually. Of this total amount, the cost to the metal and nonmetal mining sector would be $91,500, and the cost to the coal mining sector would be $44,600. MSHA estimates that between 1 and 19 deaths could be prevented over the next 65 years, which represents approximately 9 to 84 percent of all occupationally related deaths caused by asbestos exposure. Under the proposed exposure limit, approximately 1 out of every 1,000 miners will avoid the risk of death from asbestosis, lung cancer, mesothelioma, or other forms of cancer attributed to asbestos exposure.

Risks: Miners could be exposed to the hazards of asbestos at mine operations where ore body contains asbestos. In addition, miners could be exposed to asbestos at facilities that install, remove or work with material containing asbestos. Overexposure to asbestos causes asbestosis, lung cancer, mesothelioma, and other forms of cancer.

Action Date FR Cite
ANPRM 03/29/2002 67 FR 15134
Notice of Change to Public Meetings 04/18/2002 67 FR 19140
ANPRM Comment Period End 06/27/2002 67 FR 15134
NPRM 07/29/2005 70 FR 42950
Public Hearing 10/18/2005 70 FR 43950
NPRM Comment Period End 11/21/2005 70 FR 43950
Final Action 01/00/2008

Additional Information: The Office of the Inspector General issued a report entitled, "Evaluation of MSHA's Handling of Inspections at the W.R. Grace & Company Mine in Libby, Montana," in March 2001.
Regulatory Flexibility Analysis Required: No Government Levels Affected: None
Federalism: No
Energy Effects: No Included in the Regulatory Plan: Yes
RIN Information URL: Public Comment URL:
Initial (Administrative Startup and /or Capital) Cost: $0 Yearly (Annual Operating) Cost: $0
Agency Contact:
Patricia W. Silvey
Director, Office of Standards, Regulations, and Variances
Mine Safety and Health Administration
Room 631,1100 Wilson Boulevard,Room 2350
Arlington,VA 22209-3939
Phone:202 693-9440
Fax:202 693-9441