asbestos

Asbestos

Requir­ing Report­ing of Asbestos Data

Asbestos is a mate­r­i­al that is wide­ly used through­out the U.S. econ­o­my, but it is high­ly tox­ic. The known car­cino­gen caus­es 15,000 pre­ma­ture deaths annu­al­ly and is linked to life-threat­en­ing or painful dis­eases, such as mesothe­lioma, fibro­sis, gas­troin­testi­nal can­cer and lung can­cer and oth­er lung dis­or­ders. The Tox­ic Sub­stances Con­trol Act’s (TSCA) Chem­i­cal Dat­ing Report­ing (CDR) rule requires man­u­fac­tures and importers to report infor­ma­tion about the man­u­fac­tur­ing, pro­cess­ing and use of tox­ic chem­i­cals, includ­ing asbestos. This infor­ma­tion is then used to help the EPA reg­u­late tox­ic chem­i­cals in order to pro­tect human health and the envi­ron­ment. The EPA’s cur­rent asbestos data does not com­pre­hen­sive­ly assess the import­ing, pro­cess­ing and use of asbestos in the Unit­ed States.

2017-2021

  • Jan­u­ary 2019

    In Jan­u­ary 2019, a coali­tion of fif­teen attor­neys gen­er­al led by Cal­i­for­nia Attor­ney Gen­er­al Xavier Becer­ra and Mass­a­chu­setts Attor­ney Gen­er­al Mau­ra Healey filed a peti­tion with the EPA to devel­op a new asbestos report­ing rule to improve the EPA’s asbestos data by elim­i­nat­ing exemp­tions for the mate­r­i­al under the CDR. The attor­neys gen­er­al request­ed that the new report­ing rule elim­i­nate nat­u­ral­ly occur­ring sub­stance” as an exemp­tion for asbestos report­ing, require proces­sors of asbestos to adhere to the CDR’s report­ing require­ments and require that import­ed arti­cles con­tain­ing asbestos also be report­ed. This infor­ma­tion would enable the EPA to more effec­tive­ly reg­u­late asbestos and ful­fill its TSCA respon­si­bil­i­ty to pre­vent unrea­son­able risk to health and the environment.

  • May 2019

    In May 2019, the EPA pub­lished its denial of the states’ Jan­u­ary 2019 peti­tion. In June 2019, Cal­i­for­nia Attor­ney Gen­er­al Becer­ra and Mass­a­chu­setts Attor­ney Gen­er­al Healey led a coali­tion of eleven attor­neys gen­er­al in fil­ing a law­suit chal­leng­ing EPA’s denial of the states’ peti­tion in fed­er­al dis­trict court in Cal­i­for­nia. The attor­neys gen­er­al not­ed that the agency denied the peti­tion because it claimed to already have suf­fi­cient infor­ma­tion avail­able,” despite, by its own admis­sion, not know[ing] the amount of asbestos con­tained in con­sumer prod­ucts” and the U.S. Geo­log­i­cal Sur­vey, the source of the EPA’s infor­ma­tion on import­ed asbestos, disclaimin[ing] the com­plete­ness” of that infor­ma­tion. Fur­ther, the law­suit assert­ed that EPA’s fail­ure to require thor­ough report­ing on asbestos expo­sure risk deprives the states of reli­able and com­pre­hen­sive infor­ma­tion to pur­sue their own asbestos reg­u­la­to­ry efforts.

  • Decem­ber 2020

    In Decem­ber 2020, the court issued an order in favor of the attor­neys gen­er­al. The court instruct­ed the EPA to amend its CDR rule to include more thor­ough report­ing of asbestos data. The court found that EPA had act­ed con­trary to its oblig­a­tion to col­lect rea­son­ably avail­able infor­ma­tion to facil­i­tate its reg­u­la­to­ry oblig­a­tions under TSCA.

Sup­port­ing Leg­is­la­tion to Ban Asbestos

2017-2021

  • July 2019

    In July 2019, Cal­i­for­nia Attor­ney Gen­er­al Becer­ra led a coali­tion of eigh­teen attor­neys gen­er­al in send­ing a let­ter to the Chair and Rank­ing Mem­ber of the House Ener­gy and Com­merce Com­mit­tee in sup­port of the Ban Asbestos Now Act (H.R. 1603). The leg­is­la­tion would amend TSCA to pro­hib­it the man­u­fac­ture, pro­cess­ing, and dis­tri­b­u­tion of asbestos in the U.S., effec­tive­ly ban­ning the chem­i­cal. In their let­ter the attor­neys gen­er­al not­ed that the leg­is­la­tion is nec­es­sary because the EPA has demon­strat­ed that it is unable and unwill­ing to use its author­i­ty under TSCA to address the unrea­son­able risks of injury to health and the envi­ron­ment posed by asbestos, a chem­i­cal for which there is no safe lev­el of expo­sure. The leg­is­la­tion was not enact­ed in the 116th Congress.

Eval­u­at­ing the Risk of Asbestos

2017-2021

  • April 2020

    In April 2020, the EPA released its draft risk eval­u­a­tion for asbestos. The EPA’s eval­u­a­tion found that cer­tain con­di­tions of asbestos use – includ­ing the import of asbestos and asbestos-con­tain­ing prod­ucts – present no unrea­son­able risk to human health and the envi­ron­ment. In addi­tion, the EPA exclud­ed expo­sures to lega­cy asbestos from its risk evaluation.

  • June 2020

    In June 2020, a coali­tion of four­teen attor­neys gen­er­al led by Cal­i­for­nia Attor­ney Gen­er­al Becer­ra and Mass­a­chu­setts Attor­ney Gen­er­al Healey filed com­ments crit­i­ciz­ing EPA’s find­ing that cer­tain asbestos uses pose no unrea­son­able risk to human health and assert­ing that the EPA’s fail­ure to con­sid­er all uses of asbestos in its eval­u­a­tion vio­lates TSCA. In their com­ments, the coali­tion high­light­ed that the EPA con­ced­ed that the use of com­mer­cial and con­sumer asbestos iden­ti­fied in the draft risk eval­u­a­tion presents an unrea­son­able can­cer risk and admit­ted in the eval­u­a­tion that it lacks suf­fi­cient infor­ma­tion to eval­u­ate risks to peo­ple from import­ed articles.


    The attor­neys gen­er­al also point­ed out that the EPA did not com­pre­hen­sive­ly eval­u­ate expo­sure path­ways for the sub­stance, or make deter­mi­na­tions about asbestos’ risks to human health and the envi­ron­ment using the best avail­able sci­ence” and rea­son­ably avail­able infor­ma­tion,” as TSCA requires. The attor­neys gen­er­al called on the EPA to revise its approach to eval­u­at­ing the risks posed by asbestos to com­ply with its oblig­a­tions under TSCA and to obtain the infor­ma­tion it has admit­ted is nec­es­sary to con­duct thor­ough eval­u­a­tion of the risks pre­sent­ed by asbestos.

  • Jan­u­ary 2021

    In Jan­u­ary 2021, the EPA released its final risk eval­u­a­tion for asbestos, large­ly ignor­ing the con­cerns of the attor­neys gen­er­al regard­ing the defi­cien­cies in the draft risk evaluation.