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10 US States, DC Sue EPA for Stricter Asbestos Rules

Ten U.S. states and D.C. have sued the United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) stating that the agency needs to tighten oversight of asbestos. The states say if the EPA makes asbestos tougher to import and use, the health risks to the public will be reduced.

Federal law still allows what it says is “limited use” of asbestos, and in 2016, Congress amended the Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA) to create a process for regulating the dangerous substance. However, the United States Geological Survey (USGS) released a report stating that the U.S. imported around 750 metric tons of raw asbestos in 2018. This is more than double the amount imported just a year earlier, and the largest amount imported into the country since 2013.

While the EPA issued a final rule in April 2019, which became effective June 24, 2019, prohibiting most asbestos products from entering the market, some uses are still legal including asbestos diaphragms, sheet gaskets, oilfield brake blocks, aftermarket automotive brakes/linings, other vehicle friction products, and other gaskets.

In a Fox Business report, Xavier Becerra and Maura Healey, the attorneys general from California and Massachusetts, said they are leading the case against the EPA, after the agency denied the states' petition that it collect more data on asbestos.

“Asbestos is a known carcinogen that kills tens of thousands of people every year,” Healey said, “yet the Trump administration is choosing to ignore the very serious health risks it poses.” Becerra added, “there's too much at stake to let the EPA ignore the danger that deadly asbestos poses to our communities, including to workers and children.”

Per the Federal Register, in denying the states' petition, the EPA determined that it was already aware of all current uses of asbestos, and had the essential information needed to assess the risks. The states believe this denial was “arbitrary and capricious,” and violated the EPA's obligations under the TSCA.

A spokesperson for the EPA and its administrator, Andrew Wheeler, said the agency does not discuss pending litigation.

The lawsuit against the EPA was filed in the federal court in Oakland, California. The case is California et al v Environmental Protection Agency et al, U.S. District Court, Northern District of California, No. 19-03807.

 

Asbestos and Mesothelioma

Mesothelioma can take decades to develop after first exposure. The American Cancer Society (ACS) says the time between the first asbestos exposure and diagnosis of mesothelioma is usually between 20 and 50 years. And the risk of mesothelioma does not go down over time after the exposure to asbestos stops, says the ACS. The risk appears to be lifelong.

If you have been exposed to asbestos, see your doctor right away—even if you do not have symptoms. Your doctor can refer you to a specialist who will administer tests and develop a monitoring plan that could help detect mesothelioma sooner. Early detection could lead to better treatment options and outcomes. See your doctor to assess your risk today.

 

Sources

“EPA Actions to Protect the Public from Exposure to Asbestos.” EPA.gov. United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), 2019. Web. 02 Aug. 2019.

“Environmental Protection Agency.” Federalregister.gov. Federal Register – The Daily Journal of the United States Government, 2019. Web. 02 Aug. 2019.

Gosen, Bradly S. Van and Daniel M. Flanagan. “Asbestos Statistics and Information.” USGS.gov. United States Geological Survey (USGS), National Minerals Information Center, 2019. Web. 02 Aug. 2019.

“Risk Factors for Mesothelioma.” Cancer.org. American Cancer Society, Inc., 2019. Web. 02 Aug. 2019.

“US States Sue EPA for Stricter Asbestos Rules.” Fox Business. FOX News Network, LLC., 01 Jul. 2019. Web. 02 Aug. 2019.