How Is EPA Attempting To Cut Down Asbestos Exposure?

Exposure to Asbestos can cause a wide range of diseases and illnesses. Inhalation of small asbestos particles can cause lung diseases, cancers and cardiovascular diseases. As such, the EPA has been taking the necessary steps to protect the public from the harmful health effects that asbestos poses. Here are some of the actions that the EPA has taken under the Toxic Substance Control Act (TSCA) to prevent asbestos exposure in the United States.

1989 Partial Ban on Asbestos-Containing Products

The manufacture, import, processing and distribution of most asbestos-containing products are banned in the United States. These products include corrugated paper, roll-board, commercial paper, specialty paper, flooring felt and all new commercial uses that were introduced after August 25, 1989. Under the Clean Air Act (CAA), other uses of asbestos-containing products are also banned. These include its use as pipe insulation, block insulation for facility components and sprays that contain asbestos-containing materials.

The Consumer Product Safety Act also specifies that artificial fireplace embers and wall patching that contains asbestos are also banned. The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) also bans all asbestos-containing products in the pharmaceutical manufacturing process and packing.

2019 Final Rule

In April 2019, the EPA has introduced a new measure to increase the EPA’s management of asbestos-containing products that is no longer in production. This gives the EPA the ability to put restrictions on these products in order to protect public health. Under this rule, the public is protected from asbestos-containing products that are no longer approved by the EPA or no longer in production.

The EPA is also not allowing new uses of asbestos. Manufacturers will have to inform the EPA at least 90 days before beginning any manufacturing or distribution of asbestos-containing products. A thorough review of the product and creation of certain restrictions has to be made before manufacturing can begin. The asbestos-containing products under the 1989 partial ban will remain banned as well.

Risk Evaluation Under TSCA

Asbestos was the first few chemicals to undergo extensive risk reviews under the TSCA. There are still a handful of asbestos containing products that are still allowed in the U.S. They include sheet gaskets, oilfield brake blocks, aftermarket automotive brakes, other vehicle friction products and other gaskets. If the EPA finds that there are certain hazards from using these permitted products, the EPA will take immediate action to address the risk which could result in the eventual banning or restricting of the product. This ensures that the products that are not covered by the 1989 partial ban and the 2019 final rule can be evaluated as well.

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