Asbestos Risk Assessment Expanded in Big Win by ADAO and Others

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Agreement Reached Between Asbestos Organization and EPA

The Asbestos Disease Awareness Organization (ADAO) and its allies have struck agreements with the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) following legal pressure. As part of the agreements, the EPA has agreed to extend the Toxic Substances Control Act by broadening its ongoing risk Evaluation for Asbestos.

More than 60 countries have banned asbestos. The leading U.S. nonprofit for eliminating asbestos exposure has lobbied for a total ban on asbestos for years but has failed to get past the U.S. House of Representatives. Now, the organization is celebrating this agreement as an important step for a final ban.

According to the deal, the EPA will finish a second asbestos risk assessment within the next three years, or by December 2024. In addition to the second risk evaluation, the EPA will study the risks of legacy asbestos, which is asbestos used in construction or manufacturing before it was a known carcinogen.

The agreement comes after pressure from two lawsuits, which alleged inadequate evaluation of toxic asbestos. The ADAO filed the lawsuits on October 13 in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit in San Francisco, CA. 

ADAO stated in a press release that they were appreciative to have the support of leading scientists, public health organizations, and other supporting parties, including the American Public Health Association, Center for Environmental Health, Environmental Information Association, and many more.

Disappointing 2021 Asbestos Risk Assessment Concerned Scientists

The Asbestos Disease Awareness Organization believes the January 2021 final risk evaluation conducted by the Trump Administration was incomplete and accompanied by flaws that offered no additional protection. 

The evaluation released earlier this year apparently omitted five asbestos fibers and several asbestos-related diseases. According to ADAO, the previous risk evaluation also failed to include an assessment of the risks of legacy asbestos uses and disposal, although they were required to, following a 2019 court decision.

The concerning shortcomings of the asbestos risk assessment released earlier this year concerned leading public health groups and scientists, because it “ignored the best available science, and failed to provide the public with a full picture of the risks of this deadly carcinogen,” according to the press release.

Liz Hitchcock, Director of Safer Chemicals Healthy Families and ally stated, “Today’s settlement has been a long time coming, and is a tribute to the tenacity of partners like ADAO who refuse to give up the fight to protect our families and communities from asbestos. We look forward to EPA filling the gaping holes in its earlier asbestos evaluation, and to the recognition of the unacceptable danger from its use in our families’ homes, our kids’ schools, and in workplaces across the country.” 

The Use of Asbestos in American Products

The second settlement between the EPA and ADAO will require the environmental agency to evaluate the risks of “legacy” asbestos. Several places contain legacy asbestos, including homes, factories, or other structures. According to ADAO, millions of buildings and consumer products still contain legacy asbestos.

The U.S. The District Court for the Northern District of California will require the EPA to evaluate legacy asbestos risks by December 2024. ADAO argues that previous asbestos risk assessment failed to address the risk for asbestos in schools, factories, commercial buildings, homes, and consumer products across the country. Part 2 of the evaluation will also examine the potential dangers of talc and talc-containing products. 

While the mining of raw asbestos is banned in the U.S., we still come into contact with the carcinogen through old and deteriorating buildings. Exposure to asbestos can cause cancer and other deadly diseases.

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