Ten U.S. states and D.C. have filed a lawsuit against the United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) demanding stricter asbestos rules. The states say if the EPA makes asbestos tougher to import and use, the health risks to the public will be reduced.
In 2016, Congress amended the Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA) to create a process for regulating the dangerous substance. However, federal law still allows what it says is “limited use” of asbestos and the United States Geological Survey (USGS) released a report stating that the U.S. imported a hefty 750 metric tons of raw asbestos in 2018. This is more than double the amount imported just a year earlier, and the largest amount imported into the country since 2013.
In April 2019, the EPA issued a final rule, which became effective June 24, 2019, prohibiting most asbestos products from entering the market. However, the following asbestos products are still legal:
- Aftermarket automotive brakes/linings
- Asbestos diaphragms
- Oilfield brake blocks
- Sheet gaskets
- Other gaskets
- Other vehicle friction products
In a Fox Business report, Maura Healey and Xavier Becerra, the attorneys general from Massachusetts and California, said they are leading the case against the EPA, after the agency denied the states' petition that it collect more data on asbestos.
“Asbestos is a known carcinogen that kills tens of thousands of people every year, yet the Trump administration is choosing to ignore the very serious health risks it poses,” Healey said. Becerra added, “there's too much at stake to let the EPA ignore the danger that deadly asbestos poses to our communities, including to workers and children.”
Per the Federal Register, in denying the states' petition, the EPA determined that it was already aware of all current uses of asbestos, and had the essential information needed to assess the risks. The states believe this denial was “arbitrary and capricious,” and violated the EPA's obligations under the TSCA.
The lawsuit against the EPA was filed in the federal court in Oakland, California. The case is California et al v Environmental Protection Agency et al, U.S. District Court, Northern District of California, No. 19-03807.
A spokesperson for the EPA and its administrator, Andrew Wheeler, said the agency does not discuss pending litigation.
Asbestos Exposure and Mesothelioma
The American Cancer Society (ACS) says the time between the first asbestos exposure and diagnosis of mesothelioma is long—usually between 20 and 50 years. The risk of mesothelioma does not go down over time after the exposure to asbestos stops and the risk appears to be lifelong, reports the ACS.
If you have been exposed to asbestos, see your doctor right away. Your doctor can refer you to a specialist who will administer tests and develop a monitoring plan that could help detect mesothelioma sooner and in its most treatable stages. Schedule an appointment to see your doctor today.
“EPA Actions to Protect the Public from Exposure to Asbestos.” EPA.gov. United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), 2019. Web. 02 Aug. 2019.
“Environmental Protection Agency.” Federalregister.gov. Federal Register – The Daily Journal of the United States Government, 2019. Web. 02 Aug. 2019.
Gosen, Bradly S. Van and Daniel M. Flanagan. “Asbestos Statistics and Information.” USGS.gov. United States Geological Survey (USGS), National Minerals Information Center, 2019. Web. 02 Aug. 2019.
“Risk Factors for Mesothelioma.” Cancer.org. American Cancer Society, Inc., 2019. Web. 02 Aug. 2019.
“US States Sue EPA for Stricter Asbestos Rules.” Fox Business. FOX News Network, LLC., 01 Jul. 2019. Web. 02 Aug. 2019.