Critics of the EPA are renewing their call for a complete ban on asbestos after the agency’s release of Part 1 of a final risk evaluation concludes that the substance – a known human carcinogen – presents an unreasonable health risk to workers under certain conditions.
Used in chlor-alkali production, consumer products, coatings and compounds, plastics, roofing products, and other applications, asbestos is among the first 10 chemicals under evaluation for potential health and environmental risks under the Frank R. Lautenberg Chemical Safety for the 21st Century Act.
Released Dec. 30 and announced via a notice published in the Jan. 4 Federal Register, Part 1 of the final evaluation centers on chrysotile asbestos and states the substance poses unreasonable risk to workers involved in numerous operations, including:
- Processing and industrial use of asbestos diaphragms in the chlor-alkali industry
- Processing and industrial use of asbestos-containing sheet gaskets in chemical production
- Industrial use and disposal of asbestos-containing brake blocks in the oil industry
- Commercial use and disposal of aftermarket automotive asbestos-containing brakes/lining, other vehicle friction products and other asbestos-containing gaskets
As required under the Toxic Substances Control Act, which the Lautenberg Act amended, EPA must address risks by proposing within one year regulatory actions such as training, certification, restricted access and/or ban of commercial use, and then accept public comment on any proposals.