Trump EPA Will Not Ramp Up Asbestos Reporting

Despite a huge increase of asbestos imports into the United States, the Trump administration has denied a petition by an alliance of environmental groups who have called for increased reporting of asbestos importation as well as reports of use by U.S. manufacturers.

Trump EPA Will Not Ramp Up Asbestos ReportingInvolved in the coalition were the Asbestos Disease Awareness Organization (ADAO) and the Environmental Working Group (EWG). Together they had requested that the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) use its authority under the Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA) to require importers and users of asbestos and asbestos-containing products to report on their activities and then disclose these reports to the public, allowing information about asbestos to flow freely.

But the EPA said “no”, it will not implement additional reporting on imports and usage of the toxic mineral. In denying the petition, the agency claimed that it is “aware of all ongoing uses of asbestos” and that there is no need for the information to be disseminated any further.

So why the concern? Because recent federal data shows a huge surge in asbestos imports into the U.S. for the year 2018, which leads one to believe that the EPA does not fully understand where and how much asbestos is being put to use in various places and industries throughout the country.

To those advocating for an asbestos ban or – at least – better control of the asbestos that’s already being used, this loose regulation of the mineral is simply not acceptable. Furthermore, the increase in imports is staggering and certainly should raise a red flag.

The U.S. International Trade Commission reports that in August 2018 alone, the U.S. imported 272 metric tons of asbestos, compared with just 13 metric tons in July.

“President Trump’s EPA not only refused to ban asbestos, which kills tens of thousands each year, it won’t even take a closer look at how much is imported and where and how it’s being used by companies,” said ADAO President and Co-Founder Linda Reinstein. “The hundreds of thousands of deaths caused from asbestos in the U.S. alone should be reason enough for the Trump administration to better inform the public about potential routes of exposure.”

“Ratcheting up reporting requirements for one of the deadliest substances known would be a layup for any other president or EPA chief,” said EWG President Ken Cook. “Shamefully, under Trump and Acting EPA Administrator Andrew Wheeler, the agency is no longer in the business of promoting policies that protect public health. Instead, Trump and Wheeler have turned the EPA into an extension of the chemical industry, putting Americans’ lives at risk by rubber-stamping the industry’s deregulatory agenda.”