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GASP Applauds EPA Finalization of Ban on Ongoing Uses of Asbestos to Protect People from Cancer

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) this week announced a final rule to prohibit ongoing uses of chrysotile asbestos, the only known form of asbestos currently used in or imported to the United States. 

The ban on ongoing uses of asbestos is the first rule to be finalized under the 2016 amendments to the nation's chemical safety law, the Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA), which received near-unanimous support in both the U.S. House of Representatives and the Senate. 

The action marks a major milestone for chemical safety after more than three decades of inadequate protections and serious delays during the previous administration to implement the 2016 amendments.

Exposure to asbestos is known to cause lung cancer, mesothelioma, ovarian cancer, and laryngeal cancer, and it is linked to more than 40,000 deaths in the U.S. each year. 

“This is a really big deal,” GASP Executive Director Patrick Campbell said. “This public health protection is long overdue. GASP applauds the EPA for its work in the asbestos arena.”

Chrysotile asbestos is found in products including asbestos diaphragms, sheet gaskets, brake blocks, aftermarket automotive brakes/linings, other vehicle friction products, and other gaskets. The use of asbestos in the United States has been declining for decades, and its use is already banned in over 50 countries.

Although there are several known types of asbestos, the only form known to be imported, processed, or distributed for use in the United States is chrysotile. Raw chrysotile asbestos was imported into the United States as recently as 2022 for use by the chlor-alkali industry. Most consumer products that historically contained chrysotile asbestos have been discontinued.

A 1991 court decision that largely struck down EPA's 1989 ban on asbestos and significantly weakened EPA's authority under TSCA to address risks to human health from asbestos or from any other existing chemical. The 2016 amendments to TSCA transformed the law with clear requirements and a mandate to comprehensively prioritize and evaluate the risks of chemicals and put in place strong and timely health protections against any unreasonable risks.

EPA has set compliance deadlines to transition away from each use of chrysotile asbestos, which are as soon as is practicable for each use while also providing a reasonable transition period, which the law requires.

Separately, EPA is also evaluating other types of asbestos fibers (in addition to legacy uses and associated disposal of chrysotile, and asbestos-containing talc) in part two of the asbestos risk evaluation. EPA will release part two of the draft risk evaluation soon and will publish the final risk evaluation by Dec. 1.

Editor’s Note: GASP is following this issue closely and will keep you posted as the process proceeds. In the meantime, check out our Asbestos Awareness page to learn more about local asbestos rules and resources.

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