A petition by a group of non-governmental organizations (NGOs) to amend the chemical data reporting rule (CDA) in the Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA) to increase reporting on the cancer-causing mineral asbestos was rejected by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).
The petition, filed last September, argued that current uses of asbestos under the act are “limited, vague and incomplete,” and that more reporting of its use would provide a more accurate picture of its usage.
“Without adequate information on ongoing importation and use of asbestos and asbestos-containing products, the risk evaluation will fail to provide a meaningful picture of the threat that asbestos poses to public health, and citizens will be in the dark about exposure to asbestos in their communities and places of employment,” the petition stated.
But the argument didn’t sit well with the EPA, which under the Trump administration proposed a significant new use rule that allows more uses of asbestos in the U.S. on a case-by-case basis. The agency said increased reporting on asbestos use was pointless because it “is aware of all ongoing uses of asbestos and already has the information that EPA would receive if EPA were to amend the CDR requirements.”
The NGOs also called for the EPA to eliminate certain exemptions for asbestos, which the EPA also squashed, saying that lifting or modifying existing exemptions would likely have no bearing on the agency’s current understanding of asbestos.
“President Trump’s EPA not only refused to ban asbestos, which kills tens of thousands each year, it won’t even take a closer look at how much is imported and where and how it’s being used by companies,” said ADAO President and Co-Founder Linda Reinstein. “The hundreds of thousands of deaths caused from asbestos in the U.S. alone should be reason enough for the Trump administration to better inform the public about potential routes of exposure.”
Asbestos is a mineral that was widely used in construction, shipbuilding and friction materials until the 1990s, when its use was restricted in the U.S. due to health concerns. Asbestos exposure has been linked to the chronic lung disease asbestosis, lung cancer and mesothelioma, a rare form of cancer that develops in the lining of internal organs like the lungs.
More than 60 countries have banned the import, export, manufacture, sale and use of asbestos. The United States fell short of a ban by simply restricting its use. Last year, the EPA announced allowing new uses for asbestos, a move that prompted six NGOs to petition the EPA. Those NGOs include the Asbestos Disease Awareness Organization; the American Public Health Association; the Center for Environmental Health; the Environmental Working Group; the Environmental Health Strategy Center; and Safer Chemicals, Healthy Families.
The NGOs have 60 days to appeal the EPA’s decision.