On February 19, 2019, five groups filed suit against the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to challenge the EPA’s decision permitting exemptions in rules for asbestos reporting.
In addition, the organizations criticized the agency’s petition denial of a plan to ramp up reporting requirements for those companies dealing with asbestos. Their complaints state that most scientists agree that there is no safe level of asbestos exposure.
The five organizations involved in the suit include the Asbestos Disease Awareness Organization (ADAO), the Center for Environmental Health, the Environmental Working Group, the American Public Health Association, and the Environmental Health Strategy Center.
While those exposed to asbestos are more likely to develop mesothelioma, a rare cancer targeting the tissues lining the lungs, abdomen, and other organs, since the 1970s asbestos exposure has been linked to increased risk of cancer of the larynx and ovaries as well.
In 1989, the EPA actually banned the material, but two years later the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals overturned the asbestos ban.
Among the issues addressed in the lawsuit is the EPA’s Chemical Data Reporting rule, which requires companies to report the amount of asbestos in their products. However, in 2017, the EPA exempted Occidental Chemical Corporation from reporting asbestos levels in their products because the amount of asbestos was “naturally occurring.”
The company is the largest asbestos importer in the United States, and the plaintiffs allege that it has failed to notify the EPA about the total amount of asbestos imported.
In 2018, a petition was filed under section 21 of the Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA), requesting that the EPA eliminate the naturally occurring loophole. But the EPA denied the petition on the basis that strengthening reporting regulations would not produce information of which the EPA was unaware.
In response, this new lawsuit disputes the EPA’s claim, citing the discovery of asbestos in products as varied as makeup, baby powder and crayons. The ADAO states that nearly 40,000 Americans die each year from asbestos-related diseases.
Among other issues, the lawsuit seeks a declaration from the EPA that asbestos poses an unreasonable human health risk. Further, they want the court to order the agency to begin a new rulemaking process for reporting asbestos.
Environmental and health organizations are not the only ones filing petitions regarding the EPA. In late January, Attorneys General from 14 states and the District of Columbia also filed a petition under the TSCA, requiring that information regarding asbestos importation, use, and exposure, be reported.
The New Jersey asbestos attorneys at Brookman, Rosenberg, Brown & Sandler provide experienced and supportive legal representation for those who have become ill from exposure to asbestos. We know what is needed to get the compensation victims require while fighting this terrible disease. We serve clients in New Jersey as well as Pennsylvania, including Philadelphia, Philadelphia County, Chester County and Delaware County. Contact us for a free case evaluation by calling 265-569-4000 or by completing our online form.