The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is charged with creating and maintaining the regulations and federal rules to protect our air, soil, and water. Further, they provide guidance under the Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA) for the handling of hazardous materials.
This means that while the TSCA is the law, the agency that oversees the law must provide details in federal regulations that will actually carry-out the broad statements and mandates in the law. One aspect of this is the regulation of asbestos.
Recently, under President Trump’s administration, the EPA has issued a Single New Use Rule (SNUR), which would allow the EPA to evaluate new uses of asbestos in manufacturing. This provides more discretion for the EPA to permit some current uses of asbestos in newly-manufactured items.
Proponents of the SNUR argue that this could allow the EPA to prohibit the new use of asbestos in a product; but opponents say that it could also potentially allow it. Although the agency says that any product will first undergo “risk evaluation, selected studies and use the best available science,” it could be opening up a can of worms, potentially allowing companies all over the world to import new products into the United States that contain asbestos.
Unlike over fifty other nations around the world, asbestos has never been outright banned in the United States.
For many years, scientists have linked asbestos with different types of cancer, including the incurable cancer mesothelioma. This can be contracted by breathing in particles of asbestos that become released into the air. This release could happen during the manufacturing process, while the product is being handled, or when the product is being disposed of.
Some products in older homes may still contain asbestos. It does not pose a hazard to residents in the home, unless the asbestos is disturbed, releasing microscopic airborne particles.
The other issue with the new EPA rule is that disposal of legacy products containing asbestos will be excluded from any new risk evaluation. This means that the EPA will not be involved in determining the risk involved in disposal of items that are known to contain asbestos.
These may be items that were placed in homes and buildings before it was illegal to manufacture and utilize products containing asbestos. This law was passed in 1989. Although asbestos remained in some product lines at that time, new uses were forbidden.
Prior to taking office, President Trump stated in his 1997 book that the believed that many anti-asbestos efforts were not credible and were “led by the mob.” This sort of thinking seems to be leading his administration’s stance on regulating the product, despite its known link to cancer.
It has been well known for some time the severe health risks that exposure to asbestos can pose. If you have been exposed to asbestos, whether at home, work, or in the use of some other product, we can help. To make an appointment with a Philadelphia asbestos lawyer at Brookman, Rosenberg, Brown & Sandler call us at 215-569-4000 or contact us online concerning your situation. If you are considering whether to bring a lawsuit against any entities responsible for exposure to contaminated products, contact our conveniently located office in Philadelphia for further legal advice.