Properly dealing with asbestos has been a problem within the real estate industry for decades. In the 1990s, a large number of lawsuits and settlements reflected the lack of understanding between users and producers regarding the scope, objectives and limitations of asbestos surveys, assessments and screens (terms that were often used interchangeably, if not correctly).
However, the developers of a new ASTM International standard hope that it will help mitigate some of the confusion regarding asbestos treatment. A task group within Subcommittee E50.02 on Real Estate Assessment and Management developed the standard, E 2308, Guide for Limited Asbestos Screens of Buildings. E50.02 is under the jurisdiction of Committee E50 on Environmental Assessment, Risk Management and Corrective Action.
In order to make sure the new standard truly reflects industry needs, the task group invited a large number of users and producers to their meeting in late 2001. The extensive discussions that followed formed the basis for work on the standard, which was approved earlier this year.
"E 2308 is certain to reduce the number of misunderstandings between users and producers of the thousands of asbestos screens performed annually throughout the United States," says Anne Horan, chair of the task group. "Soliciting feedback from environmental consultants, asbestos contractors, lenders, developers and other users paid off in that the document establishes an industry-wide common language for scope of work and expectations for this level of asbestos inquiry in the commercial real estate market.
"The task group believes that E 2308 matches the mission of ASTM to reflect what is going on in industry, refine details and mitigate areas of contention," says Horan. "The standard establishes a clear scope of work and expectation for the services at the outset, which necessarily limits the likelihood for misunderstandings later a real plus for the real estate market."
For further technical information, contact Anne Horan, Horan & Horan, Rockwall, Texas (phone: 972/551-1800; email@example.com). Committee E50 will meet Feb. 7-9, 2006, at the January-February Committee Week in Phoenix, Ariz. For membership or meeting details, contact Daniel Smith, ASTM International (phone: 610/832-9727; firstname.lastname@example.org).