EPA Agrees to Address Asbestos Data-Collection Deficiencies

Do you know how harmful can be the use of asbestos is? Well, if you are not aware of the health hazards of asbestos, then I would like to give you some detail about this naturally occurring mineral.


Asbestos is basically a mixture of several naturally occurring minerals found on earth. Even when its ill effects were not known, it has been in use for long, especially in military services.

But after the health hazards of asbestos were known, it was banned from using it at different places like construction sites, building material and various other places. But its use is still being taking place in spite of so many restrictions.

In order to help the US citizens, EPA (Environmental Protection Agency) has come forward to tighten its data collection process so as to curb the menace of asbestos.

It all happened when the pressure mounted from a multistate level US coalition when EPA came forward to tighten its data collection process for asbestos. It will really help the country to move one step closer to banning this toxic substance from the lives of people.

It actually took long for the agreement to come in force. It took over 6 months when a US district court ordered the EPA to strengthen its ineffective data collection procedures or rules on the imports of asbestos.

And it all happened when the attorney generals of 2 states simply challenged in the court about the lack of EPA to restrict the regulation of asbestos.

“The longtime failure of the EPA to regulate asbestos is an environmental injustice and public health tragedy,” this is what the Attorney General of California said in the legal battle with EPA. As we mentioned above, asbestos is primarily a naturally occurring mineral found on earth which is known to cause a wide range of health hazards that includes malignant mesothelioma cancer.

“This is a huge win for public health,” the above comment was given by Linda Reinstein, who's the co-founder and president of  the Asbestos Disease Awareness Organization (ADAO). Well, it's basically a nonprofit organization that has advocated for years to tighten asbestos regulation.

Also Read: 4 Cancers Types Linked To Asbestos Exposure


Asbestos Exemptions Could Be Eliminated

The agreement is dated June 7, 2021 that basically says that EPA needs to take some more strict actions for asbestos data collection.

It can easily eliminate all kinds of exemptions that currently exist under the current regulations governed by the concerned body.

After the court's judgment, EPA finally agreed to work on a new program to curb the menace of asbestos related health hazards. The agreement also directed the EPA to start and take action under the Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA) guidelines.

It also directed the agency to mainly address its data collecting deficiencies or loopholes that were already identified at the time of court's ruling in the month of December.

However, in the past, EPA continued to contend that the agency is satisfied with all the voluntary data reporting by a plethora of manufacturers, processors and importers that provided all the information under the existing Chemical Data Reporting rule.

“The data collected in response to this rule could help inform EPA’s ongoing efforts to evaluate whether asbestos presents unreasonable risk of injury to health or the environment, and any future risk management actions taken by the agency to eliminate any such risk,” this is what an EPA representative had to say to the Mesothelioma Center at Asbestos.com.

It further said, “The agency is committed to protecting against unreasonable risk.”

It's California that actually filed the lawsuit two years back in 2019 against the EPA. It was actually a part of settlement that happened on June 7. Well, there are some other states also listed apart from California like Maryland, Washington, Hawaii, Maine, New Jersey, Minnesota, Oregon and Massachusetts.

Not only that, the District of Columbia was another one that joined the above proceeding against the EPA.

“The lack of reporting on asbestos has been a gaping hole in the EPA’s efforts to protect Americans from exposure to this lethal carcinogen. We’ve always said that we can’t protect Americans from asbestos if we don’t know where it is,” this is what stated by Reinstein in his statement.


Asbestos Is Already Heavily Regulated

There was a time when asbestos was advocated for its use because of its properties like versatility and heat resistance. But it was later known to be a dangerously toxic substance.

Asbestos was also being used heavily in the past without knowing it being a health hazard. Its use was basically in various consumer products, mostly at places like residential and other commercial use.

Now, if you look what actions have been taken by the US law and the government, then we must say that there have been some dramatic changes in the country after it was proved beyond doubt that asbestos use must be banned.

Due to this, asbestos is now heavily regulated in the US and its consumption (in any way) has been dropped quite dramatically in the last few decades. As far as mining of asbestos is concerned, it has already been stopped almost 2 decades back.

As per the report of U.S. Geological Survey Mineral Commodity Summaries, almost 30 metric tons of raw asbestos was imported in 2020 alone. Now, the entire asbestos was primarily used specifically by the chloralkali industry.

It was mainly used to make semi permeable diaphragms to manufacture Chlorine. Well, this was the 2nd smallest amount of asbestos that was imported in the span of 50 years. As you see, it looks like a fraction against an all time high of 803,000 tons of asbestos that was imported during 1973s.

Well, the above report doesn't include all that small amount of asbestos that was imported in the country in the form of already manufactured products like brake blocks, gaskets (to make titanium dioxide), vehicle friction products and more.

EPA in December 2019 had released its final risk evaluation report that found as many as 16 conditions of asbestos use that have the direct link for an unreasonable risk to human health.

Also Read: When is Asbestos Dangerous? What's Asbestos Exposure Law?


Legacy Asbestos Is Biggest Concern

As per the instructions, the EPA was bound to release its part 2 evaluation report that will comprise legacy asbestos. It's basically found in commercial buildings and older homes. And this happens to be the major risk for the public health today.

Due to this Legacy asbestos was added to the TSCA (Toxic Substances Control Act) in the year 2019. Well, it was a part of the ruling that basically involved the lawsuit with several states along with the District of Columbia.

As per the present act, EPA is bound to issue new regulatory guidelines for asbestos that will be a step ahead to banning of this naturally occurring mineral.

“We cannot effectively reduce the large ongoing toll of death and disease from asbestos unless we know how much is entering the country, where it is going, how it is used and how many people are exposed,” Reinstein stated.



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