At the end of October, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced it would be adjusting the scope of chemical evaluations set after the passage of the Frank R. Lautenberg Chemical Safety for the 21st Century Act, the first time American chemical regulatory law had been updated in nearly 40 years.
Originally, the EPA announced it would evaluate chemicals, including asbestos, to establish “new risk-based safety standard(s); increased public transparency for chemical information; and (a) consistent source of funding for EPA to carry out the responsibilities,” according to its website. As Beasley Allen previously reported, the agency has announced plans under the Trump administration to only gauge the risk of chemicals based on the products still being manufactured and entering the flow of commerce.
This would void the health risk of millions of tons of asbestos found in consumer products, buildings, vehicles and other materials. “For asbestos, that means gauging the risks from just a few hundred tons of the material imported annually while excluding almost all of the estimated 8.9 million tons of asbestos-containing products that the U.S. Geological Survey said entered the marketplace between 1970 and 2016,” the Associated Press wrote.
In an effort to counter the EPA proposal, eight senators have proposed the Alan Reinstein Ban Asbestos Now Act of 2017, named after the late husband of Asbestos Disease Awareness Organization Co-founder Linda Reinstein. If passed, the bill would require the EPA to identify and assesses known uses and exposures to all forms of asbestos; restrict the use of asbestos to eliminate human or environmental exposure within 18 months; and ban the manufacturing, processing, use and distribution of commerce asbestos within a year.
“Delays in banning asbestos mean as many as 15,000 Americans die each year,” Sen. Dianne Feinstein, one of the co-sponsors of the bill, said in a press release. “Despite knowing the health risks for decades, asbestos is still used in a wide variety of construction materials that the public unwittingly comes in contact with every day. We can no longer afford to wait. Congress must ban asbestos now.”
Sen. Dianne Feinstein