US bans chrysotile asbestos to protect people from cancer

US bans chrysotile asbestos to protect people from cancer

EPA’s ban is the first rule to be finalized under new Toxic Substance Control Act process, marking historic milestone for nation’s chemical safety efforts

  • By ICN Bureau | March 20, 2024

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced a final rule to prohibit ongoing uses of chrysotile asbestos, the only known form of asbestos currently used in or imported to the United States.

The ban on ongoing uses of asbestos is the first rule to be finalized under the 2016 amendments to the nation’s chemical safety law, the Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA), which received near-unanimous support in both the U.S. House of Representatives and the Senate. The action marks a major milestone for chemical safety after more than three decades of inadequate protections and serious delays during the previous administration to implement the 2016 amendments.

Exposure to asbestos is known to cause lung cancer, mesothelioma, ovarian cancer, and laryngeal cancer, and it is linked to more than 40,000 deaths in the U.S. each year. Ending the ongoing uses advances the goals of President Biden’s Cancer Moonshot, a whole-of-government initiative to end cancer as we know it.

“The science is clear – asbestos is a known carcinogen that has severe impacts on public health. President Biden understands that this concern that has spanned generations and impacted the lives of countless people. That’s why EPA is so proud to finalize this long-needed ban on ongoing uses of asbestos,” said EPA Administrator Michael S. Regan. “Under the President’s leadership, EPA has been working expeditiously to put the nation’s chemical safety program back on track and finally realize the protections of the 2016 law. This action is just the beginning as we work to protect all American families, workers, and communities from toxic chemicals.”

“Asbestos has harmed people across the country for decades, and under President Biden’s leadership, we are taking decisive action to ban its use and advance this administration’s historic environmental justice agenda,” said White House Council on Environmental Quality Chair Brenda Mallory. “This action marks a major step to improve chemical safety after decades of inadequate protections, helping advance President Biden’s Cancer Moonshot goal to end cancer as we know it.”

Chrysotile asbestos is found in products including asbestos diaphragms, sheet gaskets, brake blocks, aftermarket automotive brakes/linings, other vehicle friction products, and other gaskets. The use of asbestos in the United States has been declining for decades, and its use is already banned in over 50 countries.

 “Today’s rule is a positive first step to give all Americans a future free of exposure to asbestos – a carcinogen that has killed far too many. This dangerous substance has been banned in more than 50 countries around the world, and the United States is finally starting to catch up. An immediate ban on the import of chrysotile asbestos for the chlor-alkali industry is a long overdue step forward for public health. However, it cannot be the end of the road when it comes to phasing out other dangerous asbestos fibers, and Congress has a role to play here when it comes to providing stronger protections for our health,” said Senator Jeff Merkley.

“It is long past time for the U.S. to ban asbestos, and unacceptable this known carcinogen continues to threaten Americans and devastate families,” said Congresswoman Suzanne Bonamici. “I’ve been spent years advocating for asbestos to be banned and am grateful for the steps the EPA is taking today to finalize its rule to prohibit the import and use of chrysotile asbestos. Banning asbestos will save lives.”

“It’s been more than 50 years since EPA first sought to ban some uses of asbestos and we’re closer than ever to finishing the job,” said Environmental Working Group senior vice president Scott Faber. “For too long, polluters have been allowed to make, use, and release toxics like asbestos and PFAS without regard for our health. Thanks to the leadership of the Biden EPA, those days are finally over.”

Register Now to Attend NextGen Chemicals & Petrochemicals Summit 2024, 11-12 July 2024, Mumbai

Other Related stories