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DOL/MSHA RIN: 1219-AB24 Publication ID: Spring 2008
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: Completed Actions
Major: No Unfunded Mandates: No
CFR Citation: 30 CFR 56; 30 CFR 57; 30 CFR 71 (To search for a specific CFR, visit the Code of Federal Regulations.)
Legal Authority: 30 USC 811; 30 USC 813
Legal Deadline: None

Statement of Need: MSHA's asbestos regulations date to 1967. Current scientific data indicate that MSHA's existing asbestos PEL is not sufficiently protective of miners' health. Other Federal agencies have addressed this issue by lowering their asbestos PELs. These lower limits reflect new information and studies.

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 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 is 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 rule to the mining industry are approximately $201,000 annually. Of this total amount, the cost to the metal and nonmetal mining sector would be $156,000, and the cost to the coal mining sector would be $45,000. MSHA estimates that under the lower exposure limit, approximately 1 out of every 1,000 exposed miners will avoid the risk of death from asbestosis, lung cancer, mesothelioma, or other diseases attributed to asbestos exposure.

Risks: Miners could be exposed to the hazards of asbestos at mine operations where the 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 malignant and nonmalignant diseases.

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 02/29/2008 73 FR 11284
Final Action Effective 04/29/2008
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
Small Entities Affected: Businesses Federalism: No
Included in the Regulatory Plan: Yes
RIN Information URL: Public Comment URL:
RIN Data Printed in the FR: No
Agency Contact:
Patricia W. Silvey
Director, Office of Standards, Regulations, and Variances
Department of Labor
Mine Safety and Health Administration
Room 631, 1100 Wilson Boulevard, Room 2350,
Arlington, VA 22209-3939
Phone:202 693-9440
Fax:202 693-9441