EPA Seeks Ban on Imported Chrysotile Asbestos
On April 5, 2022, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) issued a proposed rule to protect people from asbestos exposure that prohibits the manufacture and importation of chrysotile asbestos. Chrysotile asbestos has uses in industrial industries and is especially known for its uses in the chlor-alkali and brake manufacturing industries. This proposed rule is the first-ever risk management rule issued under the new process for evaluating and addressing the safety of existing chemicals under the Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA) that was enacted in 2016. The 2016 amendments rectify a 1991 decision by the 5th Circuit Court of Appeals that largely overturned EPA’s 1989 ban on asbestos and significantly weakened EPA’s authority under TSCA to address risks to human health from asbestos or from any other existing chemical. With the 2016 amendments to TSCA, the law was radically transformed with clear requirements and a mandate to comprehensively prioritize and evaluate chemicals and put in place strong and timely protections against any unreasonable risks.
The EPA also took the opportunity in its press release announcing the proposed rule to mention its efforts to evaluate legacy uses and associated disposals, other types of asbestos fibers in addition to chrysotile, and conditions of use of asbestos in talc and talc-containing products in a supplemental risk evaluation for asbestos. EPA released the draft scope for the second part of the asbestos risk evaluation in December 2021 and will publish the final risk evaluation by December 1, 2024.
The EPA will accept public comments on the proposed rule for chrysotile asbestos until June 13, 2022.