Six NGOs (non-governmental organizations) asked the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California this week to overturn the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) denial of its petition for the agency to close a reporting loophole so that imports of and domestic uses of the carcinogen asbestos are reported, including reporting on consumer products containing asbestos-containing talc.
“This will maximize EPA’s ability to use the information reported to conduct the ongoing asbestos risk evaluation and the subsequent risk management,” the organizations said in their Right to Know Petition, which was originally flied Sept. 25, 2018 under section 21 of the Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA), and denied by the EPA on Dec. 21, 2018.
“Annually, nearly 40,000 Americans die from preventable asbestos-related diseases and exposure continues,” said Linda Reinstein, president and CEO of the Asbestos Disease Awareness Organization (ADAO), one of the petitioning organizations. “Scientific literature confirms that asbestos is a known human carcinogen and there is no safe level of exposure. We cannot afford to stand by while EPA irresponsibly abdicates its duty to protect public health and consumer safety. Americans have the right to know how much asbestos is present in their homes, schools, workplaces, and communities; where it’s being used; and the potential for exposure to workers and the public.”
Asbestos exposure can lead to the chronic lung disease asbestosis, lung cancer, and mesothelioma, a rare form of cancer that develops in the lining of the lungs, abdomen or chest.
Because asbestos is exempt from EPA reporting regulations, the largest importer of the cancer-causing mineral in the U.S., Occidental Chemical Corporation, failed to notify EPA of the amounts of asbestos it was importing, the NGO’s second petition stated.
The American Public Health Association (APHA), Center for Environmental Health (CEH), Environmental Health Startegies Center (EHSC), the Environmental Working Group (EWG), and Safer Chemicals, Healthy Families, joined ADAO in signing the petition.
On Jan. 31, 2019, attorneys general from 14 states and the District of Columbia filed a similar petition to require reporting and disclosure about the importation, use, and exposure of asbestos.