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EPA Proposes New Rules For Asbestos; Anti-Asbestos Advocates Concerned

Published: June 13, 2018

In June 2016, former President Obama signed the Frank R. Lautenberg Chemical Safety for the 21st Century Act as an amendment to the Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA), and since then, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has been moving forward in naming asbestos – as well as nine other chemicals – as toxic substances that will come under review under new TSCA legislation. For decades, loopholes in the TSCA has kept asbestos and other potentially harmful chemicals and products legal in the United States, but under this new act, the EPA is obligated to take action if a substance is found to be a dangerous risk to the population and surrounding environment.

Below are the first 10 chemicals to be evaluated for potential health and environmental risks as of December 2017:

  • 1,4-Dioxane
  • 1-Bromopropane
  • Asbestos
  • Carbon Tetrachloride
  • Cyclic Aliphatic Bromide Cluster
  • Methylene Chloride
  • N-methylpyrrolidone
  • Pigment Violet 29
  • Tetrachloroethylene, also known as perchloroethylene
  • Trichloroethylene

The EPA is required to release a scoping document for each chemical on the list that will include hazards, exposure, conditions of use, and a list of those in the population who can potentially be exposed. Recently, the EPA announced the release of problem formulation documents, which attempt to further examine the scoping documents. However, this adds another step before risk evaluations can be drafted and could potentially further delay the process to ban asbestos.

The EPA has also proposed the Significant New Use Rule (SNUR), which is designed to investigate past uses of asbestos. Currently, there are 16 uses of asbestos that are no longer utilized and under this proposed rule, if an individual manufactures, imports, or processes asbestos in any one of these outdated ways, that individual is required to notify the EPA at least 90-days beforehand. The EPA is then required to review those methods and decide if it will present a health risk to the public or environment.

Anti-asbestos advocates strongly believe that this curtails the plan to eventually ban asbestos as it still allows asbestos to be manufactured and imported and does not take into consideration the different ways people can be exposed (i.e., through contaminated drinking water, air).

Additionally, the Application of Systematic Review in TSCA Risk Evaluations (MAY 2018) was published to provide systematic reviews in the risk evaluation.

The wide-spread use of asbestos throughout the 20th century has allowed the carcinogen to be present today in many households, and household products such as flooring, insulation, cement walls, and siding. Asbestos is the only known cause of mesothelioma, a fatal cancer that affects the lining of organs and soft tissue (mainly the lungs and abdomen). The easily inhaled fibers are sharp, and become trapped, forever lodged in areas such as the lung, throat, stomach, colon, and heart.



William C. Schillaci, “New Rule for Asbestos Proposed,” EHS Daily Advisor (June 5 2018). [Link]

Alex Formuzis, “Scott Pruitt Refuses to Ban New Uses of Asbestos, Cooks Book on Toxic Chemical Evaluations,” EWG (June 1, 2018.) [Link]

*this article appeared first at

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