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California, Asbestos, and Disclosure Protocols

A potential client asked me an important question: "After performing an asbestos building survey, does [Ellis] have an obligation to disclose any asbestos findings to any State/regulatory agency? Or will it remain private to the client?"

I thought it was an important enough question to share the answer I gave, along with the opinions of a couple of Ellis employees:

Duane: "Unlike with lead paint, there is no legal requirement for a testing agency to share asbestos sampling results directly with any regulatory agency. It is the Owner and general contractor who must, by law, provide results of sampling to employees, building occupants and any trades working in the building."

Lina: " To answer the client: A testing company does not have to report asbestos findings to state/regulatory agency. Notifications to AQMD and CalOsha only if planned renovation or demolition activities involves disturbance of asbestos material greater than 100 square feet "

Ryan: "While no explicit directives exist from regulatory agencies as to the disclosure of sampling results, as a licensed consultant, Ellis has an obligation to protect itself from claims of negligence and liability with respect to the health and safety of the public.

An example might be performing a survey, finding damaged friable asbestos in occupied spaces, and receiving no further correspondence from the client. At some point following our survey, a complaint from a concerned occupant may be sent directly to a regulatory agency. The agency would likely contact the client, who may then provide Ellis' survey as their evidence of "compliance". That agency may then contact Ellis directly, and based upon the findings of our report, potentially issue sanctions and fines for non-communication of a situation that is immediately dangerous to public health and safety. In this case, Ellis is also open to potential litigation from occupants if they ever get their hands on a report and discover that Ellis as a professional noted a dangerous existing condition and did nothing further.

While extreme, the above example demonstrates that Ellis has certain obligations to not only protect the public, but also to notify regulatory agencies of intentional non-compliance when that non compliance can directly affect the health and safety of the public, or the health of Ellis as a business."

So, while there is no single black and white answer that fits all circumstances, feel free to ask us.  Knowing your options and obligations is always the smartest path forward.