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State Education Commissioner Thomas Sobol on Wednesday loosened New York's rules regarding asbestos removal, a change that could save the state millions of dollars over the next several years.

Under the ruling, anything that contains less than 1 percent asbestos does not have to be treated as a health hazard. That decision came with assurances from the state Health Department that anything with so little asbestos would not be a problem.

Because of Sobol's ruling, schools do not have to go through the time-consuming and expensive process of removing small amounts of asbestos, which has been linked to cancer.

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