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Illinois Environmental Protection Act

Illinois Environmental Protection Act

Asbestos in the state of Illinois is also regulated by the Illinois Environmental Protection Act. This agency works with the state and companies that work with asbestos to ensure that all regulations pertaining to the same removal of asbestos materials is adhered to. 

Asbestos regulations are strictly enforced in the state of Illinois because, according to the General Assembly of Illinois, numerous traces of asbestos materials were used to bolster materials (asbestos was attached to basic construction materials to make them fireproof, soundproof and to create roofing structures) from 1940 to 1972. These asbestos fibers; however, were projected into the air and over a period of time, were traced back to causing severe ailments and diseases, including mesothelioma cancer, asbestosis and lung cancer. Reputable scientific data supports this relationship and has resulted in the formation of the Illinois Asbestos Abatement Act. This piece of legislation aims to identify, contain and remove all asbestos materials. 

In the state of Illinois, an air sampling professional refers to any individual who is responsible for taking air samples to determine the airborne concentration of asbestos fibers inside and outside a designated work area. An Air Sampling Professional will conduct aggressive clearance air monitoring at the end of an asbestos abatement project to ensure that the concentration of the deadly mineral in the air is acceptable for living in the designated area. 

A project designer is required to develop all project designs for educational institutions in the state of Illinois. A project designer is required to construct specifications and contracts that a licensed Illinois contractor must follow to complete an asbestos abatement project that complies with both state and federal regulations. If a project design is developed for asbestos abatement in a public or commercial building, then it must be finished by a licensed Project Designer. 

Illinois’ Definition of Asbestos:

The state of Illinois, through the Attorney General’s Office, defines asbestos as a distinct mineral fiber, often utilized in construction materials that, when inhaled, contains carcinogenic filaments. Overtime, if exposure is severe enough, these filaments will disrupt the cellular structure of many vital organs, causing their protective layers or membranes to eviscerate. When this occurs, the individual exposed to asbestos is likely to develop malignant mesothelioma, asbestosis or lung cancer. 

Prolonged exposure to asbestos significantly increases your risk of developing lung cancer or a slew of asbestos-related diseases. These risks are augmented by smoking and the level of exposure—obviously the longer one is exposed to asbestos the more likely they are to contract the cancer. Common asbestos-disease symptoms take several years to become tangible. Therefore, if you previously worked with asbestos fibers in the past it is critical that you undergo diagnostic or imaging tests in hopes of detecting the cancer during an early stage. Early detection for mesothelioma or other asbestos-based cancers is the only means to effectively cure the majority of asbestos-related cancers. 

Exposure to airborne asbestos fibers greatly increases the probability of developing mesothelioma and other lung cancers because the fibers stick to the organ’s lining and eat away at its protective tissues. Prolonged exposure to the deadly fibers increases the amount of carcinogens in the lungs. These fibers perpetuate the developments of serious diseases, cancer, asbestosis and mesothelioma. 

Three of the most intrusive health effects associated with asbestos exposure includes the following:

Lung Cancer: The most common form of asbestos-related diseases. Individuals, who have previously manufactured, mined or milled asbestos, face a great risk of developing lung cancer. Common lung cancer symptoms include: painful breathing, difficulty swallowing and a persistent cough. Other symptoms include: anemia, shortness of breath and hoarseness. 

Malignant Mesothelioma: This disease is a rare form of cancer that is typically found in the lining of the lungs, chest, or the sac surrounding the heart. Mesothelioma cancer is directly related to exposure to asbestos fibers. Due its slow-developing symptoms and innocuous cell structure, malignant mesothelioma is not observable by the patient until 25-30 years following his/her first exposure to asbestos. 

Malignant mesothelioma treatment options are elastic to the stage in which the disease was diagnosed; the bulk of treatment options, because of delayed detection, are merely palliative.  If, by chance, the cancer is detected at any early stage, curable remedies, such as surgery, may be suggested to extract the cancerous cells. Because early detection is unlikely, palliative treatment, such as chemotherapy, radiation and minor surgery are often applied to mesothelioma patients to improve their overall quality of life.

Asbestosis: A disease that is long-term and non-cancerous in nature. Although non-cancer, asbestosis is regarded as highly intrusive and severe. This disease develops from persistent inhalation of asbestos fibers. These filaments destroy lining of the lungs, forming a mass build-up of scar tissue. This scarring acts as an impediment, blocking oxygen from passing through to the blood. Common symptoms associated with asbestosis include: shortness of breath, chest pains and a crackling sound in the lungs when inhaling. Currently, there is no curative treatment for this asbestosis.  

Illinois Attorney General’s Role with Regards to Controlling Asbestos:

One of the chief responsibilities of the Illinois Attorney General’s office is safeguarding Illinois residents by protecting the environment. Illinois Attorney General Madigan plays a crucial role in protecting the welfare of all Illinois residents and strives to implement safety regulations to promote safe living and a brighter future. 

The Illinois Office of The Attorney General handles all civil and criminal litigation of environmental crimes. Civil litigation in the state is specifically handled by the Attorney General’s Environmental Enforcement Agency and the Asbestos Litigation Divisions. Criminal litigation for said violations is litigated over by the Environmental Crimes Bureau. 

The Illinois Attorney General plays a significant role in the enforcement of the state’s environmental laws. The primary role of the office regarding environmental enforcement is handling litigation that is referred to the Office by several state agencies, including the Illinois Emergency Management Agency, the Environmental Protection Agency, the Illinois Department of Public Health, the Illinois Department of natural Resources and many others. 

Protecting the state’s natural resources is crucial to ensuring a health environment. For this reason, the Illinois Attorney General’s Office imposes strict regulations for the state’s environmental protection laws. The unit responsible for enforcing these laws is the Illinois Environmental Crimes Bureau. This agency is responsible for prosecuting the most aggressive or egregious forms of environmental crimes. Common examples of these crimes include:

Air Pollution: Refers to the burning of tires or waste, or releasing chemicals into the atmosphere. Improper asbestos removal is another example of air pollution that will warrant a jail sentence. 

Land Pollution: Improper handling or removal of tire piles, landfills, agricultural waste, hazardous waste and/or roadside dumping

Water Pollution: Refers to farm drainage and waste generated by factories, warehouses, manufacturing plants and/or construction sites

The state of Illinois defines hazardous waste as any material that threatens the health and safety of the state’s environment and its inhabitants. Hazardous waste, therefore, includes (but is not limited to): acids, paint waste, solvents, pesticides, cyanides, degreasers and solvents. 

It is important that you, as a resident of Illinois, do not attempt to handle these wastes by yourself. If you need to remove hazardous waste (asbestos is defined as a hazardous waste according to Illinois law) you must call the Illinois Environmental Protection Agency or your local law enforcement office for the safe handling and/or removal of the waste. 

Contact Information:

Environmental Crimes Hotline:

1-888-ATTYGEN (1-888-288-9436) 

1-800-964-3013 (TTY)

Environmental Bureau North

69 West Washington Street 

Suite 1800 

Chicago, IL 60602

Environmental Bureau South/Asbestos Litigation Bureau

500 South Second Street 

Springfield, IL 62706

Environmental Crimes Bureau 

69 West Washington Street 

Suite 1800

Chicago, IL 60602