Customers dropping off leftovers from their most recent renovation projects will have to make sure their loads meet new standards that go into effect April 1.
That’s when the two Metro-owned transfer stations will change their drop-off procedures to further limit possible asbestos exposure to staff and visitors. Since last spring, Metro has required proof that certain construction materials arriving at its transfer stations do not contain asbestos. Beginning April 1, the list of construction materials requiring testing for asbestos will expand to include stucco, insulation and other products.
Update Jan. 30, 2017: A previous edition of this story included drywall on the list of products that, as of April 1, would no longer be accepted without documentation that it is free of asbestos. Drywall has been removed from this list.
“These changes are important to ensure the health and safety of our customers and our facility workers, as well as to ensure continued operation of the transfer station,” said Penny Erickson, a manager in Metro’s Property and Environmental Services Department.
The changes come after the Oregon Department of Environmental Quality saw an increase in materials containing asbestos at local facilities not permitted to take asbestos. Since then, the DEQ asked Metro for a more thorough and comprehensive list of prohibited items that may contain asbestos.
“These types of suspect materials we are screening for are very common in construction and remodeling projects,” Erickson said. “Because of that, many of our customers could be impacted with longer waits and rejected loads.”
Though no longer commonly found in modern building materials, asbestos has not been completely prohibited in new materials sold in the United States, and it still poses a threat to people when openly exposed.
Asbestos was mostly used in a variety of construction materials from the 1940s through the 1970s, but is still considered dangerous since it's linked to three different types of cancer, including lung cancer, asbestosis and mesothelioma. For more detailed information about bans on asbestos in the United States, check out the Environmental Protection Agency’s overview on the mineral.
Building materials ranging from vinyl flooring to wallboard to ceiling tiles can contain asbestos. It was used in glues, tapes, and many other construction products in the mid 20th century.
“When in doubt, have it checked out by a qualified inspector or lab prior to doing any remodeling work,” said Erickson. “Be sure to bring proof of that with you when delivering the load.”
Asbestos poses a threat mostly when disturbed or damaged, so materials that haven’t been disturbed probably haven’t released the toxic fibers. Erickson says that a proactive step to take prior to beginning any project at home, is to find out whether the updated list of prohibited items contains any of the products you may plan to get rid of, such as stucco, gaskets and insulation.
“Plan ahead when considering a remodeling project,” Erickson said. “Call for information concerning our rules to make sure you know what is needed to dispose of your materials.”
Material that could contain asbestos must be tested by a certified lab before it can be brought to a Metro transfer station. Loads of construction waste that contain asbestos or that do not have proper paperwork will be turned away.
While materials containing asbestos cannot be accepted at a Metro transfer station, Metro can receive up to two 25-pound bags of asbestos-containing materials per residential customer per day at its two separate household hazardous waste facilities. These materials must be properly prepared before they come to the hazardous waste facility.
For more information regarding Metro transfer station rules, check out www.oregonmetro.gov/asbestosrules.