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‘Legacy Uses’ Number One Cause of Asbestos Exposure. EPA to Reevaluate 2017 Decision

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has announced that it plans to reevaluate a decision it made last year to exclude “legacy” uses of asbestos from its risk assessment. The decision offers new hope for health advocates and others who are fighting to eradicate asbestos use in America and around the world.

In the original decision, the EPA said it would only review “current and prospective” uses of asbestos. Unfortunately, “current and prospective” uses of asbestos do not pose the biggest threat to Americans. According to asbestos-abatement experts, asbestos in older and deteriorating buildings is the number one source of exposure to firefighters, workers, and the general public. Under the original EPA decision, this fact would be ignored. 

The original decision, says a Chicago Tribune report, would gauge the risks “from just a few hundred tons of the material imported annually, while excluding almost all of the estimated 8.9 million tons of asbestos-containing products that the U.S. Geological Survey said entered the marketplace between 1970 and 2016.”

While the original decision is currently under assessment, there is no word yet on when a final decision will be made public.

Recent Updates to the TSCA

On June 22, 2016, the Frank R. Lautenberg Chemical Safety for the 21st Century Act, which amends the Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA), was signed into law. The new law, which received bipartisan support in both the U.S. House of Representatives and the Senate, includes much needed improvements such as: 

  • Mandatory requirement for EPA to evaluate existing chemicals with clear and enforceable deadlines
  • New risk-based safety standard
  • Increased public transparency for chemical information
  • Consistent source of funding for EPA to carry out the responsibilities under the new law.

Combined with the new EPA rules, reversal of the original decision on legacy uses could save thousands of lives. An all-out ban, says Senator Dianne Feinstein, could save “as many as 15,000 Americans,” each year.

If you have been exposed to asbestos, see your doctor immediately. There is no cure for mesothelioma. However, early detection often leads to better treatment options and outcomes.


Brown, Matthew. "EPA Chemical Review Would Exclude Millions of Tons of Toxins." Tronc. Inc., 26 Oct. 2017. Web. 15 Mar. 2018.

Miller, Julie A. "Democrats Introduce Bill Demanding Ban on Asbestos in US." CW Research Ltd., 09 Jan. 2018. Web. 17 Mar. 2018.

"Scope of the Risk Evaluation for Asbestos." United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), June 2017. Web. 15 Mar. 2018.

"The Frank R. Lautenberg Chemical Safety for the 21st Century Act." United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), 15 Mar. 2018. Web. 17 Mar. 2018.