The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) rejected a petition brought by six non-governmental organizations (NGOs) to amend the chemical data reporting rule (CDA) in the Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA) to require increased reporting and the elimination of certain exemptions for the cancer-causing mineral asbestos.

The petition, which was filed in September, argued that increased reporting of asbestos was needed to give a more accurate picture of current usage of asbestos because the uses currently identified under the TSCA are “limited, vague and incomplete.”

“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 EPA squashed that request saying 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 agency also said that lifting or modifying existing reporting exemptions would be unlikely to result in any new information that would sway the EPA’s understanding of the use of the mineral.

Asbestos use was restricted in 1971 because exposure to the mineral can cause mesothelioma, a rare but deadly form of cancer that forms in the lining of the lungs, abdomen or chest. It can take up to 50 years for mesothelioma to develop. Once diagnosed, the prognosis is generally dire.

Asbestos is banned in more than 60 countries including Canada, but it is still used in the United States, though restricted. A significant new use rule proposed under the Trump administration allows the EPA to consider new uses of asbestos on a case-by-case basis.

The petition was signed by 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 groups have 60 days to appeal the EPA’s decision.

Chemical Watch

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