EPA Says New Rule Would Close Door on Asbestos
The United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) says they are moving forward with a new proposal that would demand that companies get EPA approval to manufacture and import asbestos/asbestos products.
This rule, they say, would essentially “close the door” on asbestos use which, advocates of the proposal point out, could resume at any time under the current laws.
ABC reports that under this new law the agency has identified several areas where asbestos is no longer in use (i.e. roofing) and, as such, they would require any company that wants to manufacture or import asbestos for that purpose to notify the EPA at least 90 days in advance.
At that point, they say, they can stop the wheels from turning and prevent these new uses.
It’s important to remember that most asbestos products were never officially banned in the U.S., except for a few of the most toxic, like spray-on insulation.
A ban proposed in 1989 that would have covered many other hazardous asbestos products was later overturned by an appeals court.
Many companies ceased using asbestos in their products because of the health hazards and the legal ramifications. However, without the rule, the EPA points out, those uses could start again without any oversight by government agencies.
Nancy Beck, deputy assistant administrator in the EPA chemical safety office, believes the proposal is absolutely essential, as do many others who’ve campaigned for a ban of the hazardous mineral.
“If somebody wanted to start doing it there’s nothing preventing them. So, we wanted to sort of look at the whole landscape and make sure that if anyone started a use we would be able to evaluate it,” she explained.
But many believe that the proposal simply does not go far enough. Technically, under the law, the EPA could give the go ahead to a company that notifies them of their intent to manufacture or import asbestos.
“Asbestos is a carcinogen regardless of whether it’s in building material that was installed 40 years ago or whether it’s in a newly manufactured product,” said Melanie Benesh, legislative attorney for the Environmental Working Group, which has been very outspoken about Trump’s lackadaisical view on asbestos use.
“Cancer doesn’t distinguish between these two uses so when EPA is evaluating asbestos we think they should take a comprehensive look.”