The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has decided to include asbestos among the first ten chemicals to be evaluated under the new Toxic Substance Control Act. To anti-asbestos ralliers and mesothelioma warriors, this means that we are one step closer to officially banning asbestos.

Within six months of evaluating the first ten chemicals, the EPA will release a document for each chemical that includes:

  • hazards
  • exposures
  • conditions of use
  • potentially exposed or susceptible subpopulations to be reviewed

EPA’s Wake-up Call to Asbestos Manufacturers

The EPA has tried to ban asbestos in the past, but they haven’t been successful. Under the new Toxic Substance Control Act, the EPA will finally have the support that they lacked in previous attempts to ban asbestos.

“Under the new law, we now have the power to require safety reviews of all chemicals in the marketplace.” said Jim Jones, the assistant administrator of the EPA’s Office of Chemical Safety and Pollution Prevention. “We can ensure the public that we will deliver on the promise to better protect public health and the environment.”

Regardless of the EPA’s promises, many manufacturers and industries continue to combat the banning of asbestos because of its desirable properties:

  • Strong and durable
  • Resistant to fire, heat, and electricity
  • Affordable

Recently, the American Chemistry Council chimed in about their thoughts about the EPA including asbestos in the first ten chemicals to be reviewed. The American Chemistry Council is associated with the chlor-alkali industry, which accounts for the majority of asbestos that is imported in the United States.

“It is important to note that a chemical’s inclusion in this first group of ten chemicals does not in and of itself indicate anything about the safety of the chemical. Its listing is simply an acknowledgment by the Agency that it plans to conduct risk evaluations on these ten chemicals before others,” said the American Chemistry Council.

Asbestos is considered to be a human carcinogen and there is no known level of safe exposure. Knowing this could be a huge victory for the EPA and a massive wake-up call to manufacturers that currently reap the benefits financially for using asbestos.

EPA Protected Despite President’s View on Asbestos

With the recent election of president Trump, there had been great fear that asbestos wasn’t going to be addressed by the EPA. Trump has made statements about cutting funds and dismantling the EPA. He has also stated the he doesn’t believe that asbestos is harmful and that the movement to ban asbestos is a mafia conspiracy.

In the past, Trump settled a class-action lawsuit that involved demolition workers who were hired to clear the site for the Trump Tower in New York. While clearing the site, many of the workers were exposed to asbestos due to lack of proper protective equipment.

Thankfully, the EPA will not have to worry about any interference from the new president. The EPA will now be protected legally by the requirements of the new Toxic Substance Control Act. They will be able to take all actions that are necessary to meet deadlines and to fully evaluate the chosen chemicals.

Recently, Trump appointed Scott Pruitt to run the EPA. Scott is known for his involvement in the fossil fuel industry. He is also known for opposing environmental regulations from the federal government. Despite Scott being in charge of the EPA, the organization should still have no issues with banning asbestos.

Under the new Toxic Substance Control Act, the EPA will have up to three years to determine the risks of the first ten chemicals on their list. If the EPA finds a chemical to be hazardous, they must mitigate its risks within two years. This means that the EPA may finally be successful in banning all forms of asbestos by 2021.

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Show Sources & Author

  1. EPA Confirms Priority Action For Deadly Asbestos, Protecting Against Derailment From Trump Administration. The Huffington Post. Retrieved from: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/epa-confirms-priority-action-for-deadly-asbestos-protecting_us_583e0d20e4b048862d73fc34. Accessed: 12/01/16.
  2. EPA Names First Chemicals for Review Under New TSCA Legislation. US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). Retrieved from: https://www.epa.gov/newsreleases/epa-names-first-chemicals-review-under-new-tsca-legislation. Accessed: 12/01/16.
  3. Evaluating Risk of Existing Chemicals under TSCA. US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). Retrieved from: https://www.epa.gov/assessing-and-managing-chemicals-under-tsca/evaluating-risk-existing-chemicals-under-tsca. Accessed: 12/02/16.
  4. Why Tighter Asbestos Restrictions Could be Bad News For Chlorine Producers. ChemInfo. Retrieved from: http://www.chem.info/news/2016/09/why-tighter-asbestos-restrictions-could-be-bad-news-chlorine-producers. Accessed: 12/02/16.
  5. Jim Jones, Assistant Administrator for the Office of Chemical Safety and Pollution Prevention. US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). Retrieved from: https://www.epa.gov/aboutepa/jim-jones-assistant-administrator-office-chemical-safety-and-pollution-prevention. Accessed: 12/02/16.
  6. Donald Trump and The Art of the Crooked Asbestos Deal. The Huffington Post. Retrieved from: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/donald-trump-and-the-art-of-the-crooked-asbestos-deal_us_5762d7c7e4b02081542fdc6f?j7b76iau1oqqe0cnmi. Accessed: 12/02/16.
  7. Trump dismantling the EPA won’t save much money because the agency already spends so little. Quartz. Retrieved from: http://qz.com/838727/trumps-plan-to-dismantle-the-epa-wont-save-any-money-because-the-agency-already-spends-basically-nothing/. Accessed: 12/02/16.
  8. Trump Picks Scott Pruitt, Climate Change Denialist, to Lead E.P.A. The New York Times. Retrieved from: http://www.nytimes.com/2016/12/07/us/politics/scott-pruitt-epa-trump.html?_r=0. Accessed: 12/08/16.

About the Writer, Nicole Godfrey

Nicole Godfrey is an outreach associate and contributing writer for Mesothelioma Guide. She develops content to help educate and provide awareness about the most significant information about improving a mesothelioma patient’s prognosis.