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What does AHERA stand for? Meaning & Definition

What Does AHERA Stand For

AHERA stands for “Asbestos Hazard Emergency Response Act”.

What is the Asbestos Hazard Emergency Response Act?

The Asbestos Hazard Emergency Response Act (AHERA) and its regulations call for public school districts and non-profit schools as well as charter schools and those associated with religious institutions to:

  • Inspect their schools for asbestos-containing building materials
  • Prepare a management plan and to take necessary steps to prevent or decrease asbestos hazards

These legal requirements are based on the principle of “in-place” management of asbestos-containing building materials. The removal of these materials is not typically necessary unless the material is seriously damaged or will be disrupted by a renovation project or building demolition.

The staff that are working on asbestos in schools are required to be trained and accredited in accordance with The Asbestos Model Accreditation Plan.

Additionally, if removal of asbestos during a renovation is justified, or school building demolition, public schools, and non-profit schools are required to comply with the Asbestos National Emissions Standards for Hazardous Air Pollutants (NESHAP).

AHERA Definition of School Buildings That Must Be Inspected

The Federal Asbestos Hazard Emergency Response Act (AHERA) requires every public and non-public elementary and secondary schools (K-12) to complete a preliminary inspection for asbestos and a reinspection of assumed and known asbestos at a minimum of once every 3 years in each building that is leased, owned, or otherwise used as a school building.

In the State Education Department “1995 Triennial Asbestos Reporting Forms” that were sent to every school, the first question asks: Is this building still used as a school? While this seems pretty straightforward, the AHERA definition of a school building needs to be referenced.

AHERA Section 763.83 defines the following as school buildings:

  1. any suitable structure that can be used as a classroom, including a school facility like as a laboratory, library, school lunchroom, or facility used for food preparation;
  2. any gym or other facility that is specifically designed for athletic and recreational activities for an academic class in physical education; or
  3. any other facility used for student instruction or housing or for the management of research or educational programs; and
  4. any storage, utility, or maintenance facility, including hallways, necessary to the operation of any facility defined in (a), (b), and (c).

Review the above definitions thoroughly. Any building that meets the above definition of a school building is covered by AHERA and is required to be inspected for asbestos. If any asbestos-containing building material (ACBM) is found throughout the initial inspection, these buildings are required to be re-inspected every 3 years for asbestos. The 1995 AHERA 3-year reinspection needs to be completed no later than July 9, 1995.

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