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EPA’s Comprehensive Asbestos Reporting Rule Update

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EPA’s Reporting Rule for Asbestos Under Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA)

“We know that exposure to asbestos causes cancer and other serious health problems that still result in thousands of people dying every year, and today we’re continuing our work to protect people from this dangerous chemical. We’ve already proposed to ban chrysotile asbestos, and the data we’ll receive from this final rule will help us to better evaluate and address the health risks from the remaining uses and types of asbestos.”

Assistant Administrator for the Office of Chemical Safety and Pollution Prevention, Michal Freedhoff

In July 2023, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) established a final decision regarding its asbestos reporting rule. The new regulation was issued under the Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA) and requires asbestos importers, manufacturers, and processors to report the use and exposure of all six types of asbestos, including chrysotile asbestos. This update came after a controversial ruling in 2019 that narrowed the scope of asbestos reporting, which drew criticism from environmentalists and health experts. The updated ruling promotes more accurate asbestos reporting in hopes of diminishing the chances of developing mesothelioma from asbestos contact or exposure.

Under the new rule under the TSCA Act, any manufacturer, importer, or processor who handled asbestos between 2019 and 2022 and had annual sales of $500,000 or above during those years must report certain exposure-related information. That includes quantities of asbestos, types of use, and employee data, ensuring that the risks of asbestos exposure were properly mitigated.

The new reporting rule also applies to any products that contain asbestos as an impurity, such as asbestos-contaminated talc, which will require companies to be more transparent about the use of asbestos in their products. Companies subject to the rule have nine months to collect all data and submit it to the EPA. This will help the EPA to monitor and regulate the use of asbestos, leading to a safer environment for everyone.

Strategic Data Utilization for Future Asbestos Actions

It’s important to note that the first part of the Risk Evaluation of Asbestos, released in December 2020, focused solely on chrysotile asbestos. While this was a step forward in regulating the use of this mineral, it was also criticized for not considering the presence of asbestos, otherwise known as legacy asbestos, in older products and buildings. Part 2 of the risk evaluation is set to be published by December 1, 2024, to address this issue. It is expected to provide a more comprehensive approach to regulating and managing the risks associated with legacy uses of asbestos. This is a crucial step towards ensuring the safety of individuals who may come into contact with asbestos-containing materials in various settings.

The EPA will use the data reported through the new rule to make informed decisions on future asbestos rulings and evaluations. The EPA website provides an example of talc use, stating that “data collected on asbestos as an impurity could better inform the risk evaluation of the use of asbestos in talc.” By updating asbestos regulations, companies can minimize exposure risks. Exposure to asbestos can lead to serious health issues such as mesothelioma and lung cancer, which is why protecting the health of U.S. citizens is one of the EPA’s primary functions.

Key Requirements of the Asbestos Reporting Rule

The final rule that went into effect on August 24, 2023, requires any entity that manufactured, imported, or processed asbestos from 2019 to 2022 with annual sales of $500,000 or more during that time to report its asbestos use. This means that companies must report any use of asbestos in their products, regardless of whether it was intentional or not.

Additionally, the rule specifically includes any companies that deal with asbestos as an impurity. This includes commercial asbestos products with talc and vermiculite, which can be contaminated with asbestos. Companies commonly use talc and vermiculite in consumer products like makeup, insulation, and fertilizers. These products have been named in thousands of asbestos-contamination lawsuits over the years. It is important to note that the reporting requirement applies to all manufacturers and processors of asbestos, regardless of whether they are located in the United States or abroad. Companies must submit reports within six months of the rule’s effective date, which was August 24, 2023.

Overall, the final rule is designed to provide greater transparency around the use of asbestos and to help protect workers and consumers from the health risks associated with exposure to this dangerous substance.

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EPA Asbestos Reporting Rule Historical Context and Legal Developments

While asbestos has been used for decades, the EPA has only recently implemented regulations against the mineral’s use. The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) identified ten chemicals and minerals in 2016 that required risk evaluation, including asbestos. However, the risk evaluation focused solely on new uses of chrysotile asbestos, excluding other types of asbestos and any legacy uses. In 2019, the public health interest group Safer Chemicals, Healthy Families challenged the decision to evaluate chrysotile asbestos alone. The court ruled that the EPA should not have excluded legacy uses of asbestos. Consequently, the EPA broadened the scope of part 2 of the risk evaluation.

In 2020, the EPA’s Risk Evaluation for Asbestos Part 1: Chrysotile Asbestos concluded that chrysotile asbestos poses an unreasonable risk to human health. The evaluation also defined the scope of part 2, which included legacy uses of asbestos. Finally, the EPA released a rule on asbestos reporting in 2023, requiring reporting on the uses of all six types of asbestos. Due to a consent decree, the EPA agreed to release part 2 of the risk evaluation by December 1, 2024.

EPA’s Proactive Measures and Future Plans

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has been at the forefront of addressing asbestos risks and taking proactive measures to protect human health and the environment. In its continued efforts to identify potential risks, the agency is constantly promoting safer alternatives to protect public health and the environment through regulatory actions and asbestos bans. Moreover, the EPA also collaborates with relevant stakeholders to advance research and hold companies accountable for complying with established guidelines. With such diligent efforts, the EPA is constantly looking for ways to improve and enhance its initiatives to ensure the safety and well-being of the public and the environment. If you need assistance in collecting and submit exposure-related information within the nine-month deadline to aid the EPA in its mission to monitor and regulate asbestos use, ultimately creating a healthier environment for everyone.

Last updated on May 22nd, 2024 at 03:53 pm

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