Washington — The Environmental Protection Agency is accepting comment until July 5 on a proposed rule that would establish reporting and recordkeeping requirements for asbestos – a known human carcinogen – under the Toxic Substances Control Act.
According to a notice published in the May 6 Federal Register, EPA would require manufacturers, importers and processors of asbestos and asbestos-containing products to report to the agency certain use and exposure information observed over the past four years, including quantities of asbestos manufactured or processed, types of use, and employee data.
Those manufacturers, importers and processors would have up to nine months after the effective date of a final rule to collect and submit the required data, which “would be used by EPA and other federal agencies in considering potential future actions, including risk evaluation and risk management activities,” the notice states.
In a press release, EPA calls the proposal the latest in a “comprehensive suite of actions to address the risks to public health from asbestos.” According to the American Public Health Association, asbestos kills almost 40,000 Americans each year.
In April, EPA announced a proposed rule that would ban the use of chrysotile asbestos. The only known form of asbestos imported into the United States, chrysotile asbestos is found in products such as aftermarket automotive brakes and linings, brake blocks, sheet gaskets, and other vehicle friction products.
“Strong data and the best available science are the foundation of our work to protect communities from hazardous chemicals like asbestos,” Michal Freedhoff, assistant administrator of the EPA Office of Chemical Safety Pollution Prevention, said in the release. “Getting a more comprehensive and complete set of data on how and where this chemical is used is part of EPA’s broader effort to evaluate the health risks from asbestos and, when needed, put protections in place.”
Linda Reinstein, president of the nonprofit Asbestos Disease Awareness Organization, praises the most recent proposed rule in a press release. In June, EPA reached a legal settlement with ADAO; the organization filed suit after EPA’s denial of a 2018 petition to mandate asbestos reporting under the TSCA. The proposal is a condition of the settlement.
“The lack of reporting obligations by the asbestos industry has been a gaping hole in EPA’s efforts to protect Americans from exposure to this lethal carcinogen,” Reinstein said. “We’ve always said that we can’t protect Americans from asbestos if EPA and the public don’t know where it is, how it is used and who is exposed.”