A Worcester landlord admitted sufficient facts to be found guilty of violating the Massachusetts Clean Air Act by improperly removing asbestos-containing material from a rental property, Attorney General Tom Reilly and Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection (MassDEP) Commissioner Robert Golledge, Jr. announced.
Jocelyn Toussaint, 48, was ordered to pay a $1,500 fine by Worcester District Court Judge David Despotopulos, who continued the case without a finding for one year.
After tenants complained to the Worcester Board of Health about the condition of the asbestos pipe insulation in the basement, Toussaint, whoâ€™s wife owns the rental property involved, reportedly removed asbestos-containing material himself without following any containment procedures.
As a result, the tenantsâ€™ possessions in the basement were contaminated, and the tenants, who were home during the removal, were potentially exposed to asbestos fibers. A tenant notified Worcester Police and MassDEP of the removal and laboratory analysis confirmed that the dust released in the process contained asbestos fibers.
The removal of asbestos is governed by a set of strict regulations promulgated by the MassDEP to prevent the release of asbestos fibers into the air. Under state law, homeowners who remove asbestos on their own are required to follow the same standards followed by licensed asbestos abatement contractors.
According to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, a large number of occupational studies have reported that exposure to asbestos can cause lung cancer, mesothelioma and asbestosis.
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