My first legal case involved "fly ash." I had no idea what fly ash was so I looked it up in the dictionary. Fly ash is a "coal-combustion by-product" (CCB) that is often used in concrete as a replacement for portland cement. When used in massive concrete structures, like dam construction, fly ash can result in a significant cost savings.
Despite all of my work with fly ash, I had never read or heard anyone mention that fly ash could be the "new asbestos." That was, until I read an ENR article titled "Fly Ash Looms as the ‘New Asbestos":
"Concrete groups are on tenterhooks, waiting for the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency to publish a proposed rule that aims to designate fly ash and other coal-combustion by-products as hazardous waste. The concrete sector is concerned even about the ramifications of a ‘hybrid’ rule that would allow beneficial uses of CCBs to continue."
But what does fly ash have to do with green building? According to the Portland Cement Association, fly ash can be used in green buildings to achieve an innovation point:
"[T]he USGBC has issued a credit interpretation that allows for an innovation credit if 40% less cement is used than in typical construction, or if 40% of the cement in concrete is replaced with slag cement, fly ash, or both."
A ruling that fly ash is a hazardous waste could reduce the amount of the material used in future construction. Additionally, handling of existing structures that contain fly ash will become more complicated and costly.
What do you think? Related Links
Building Green With Concrete (Portland Cement Association)
Fly Ash Looms As the New Asbestos (ENR)