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October 5, 2018

The Asbestos Disease Awareness Organization Files a Petition for Asbestos Company Transparency

The Asbestos Disease Awareness Organization along with the American Public Health Association, Center for Environmental Health, Environmental Working Group, Environmental Health Strategy Center, and Safer Chemicals Healthy Families have submitted a petition demanding more transparency from organizations that import asbestos into the United States. They do not think that the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is doing its job and protecting Americans from the carcinogenic substance. The petition, which was submitted to the acting EPA administrator Andrew Wheeler, asks the EPA to use its authority under the Toxic Substances Control Act to require importers of asbestos and products containing asbestos to report and disclose information about their activity to the public.

The petition is asking the EPA to change the Chemical Data Reporting (CDR) Rule for asbestos, since it is such a dangerous material. The CDR rule requires manufacturers and importers of dangerous chemicals to give the EPA information about the chemicals they create and bring into the country. The petition asks for four changes for reporting asbestos:

  • Change the minimum amount of asbestos to be reported from 2,500 pounds in any year in the reporting period to 10 pounds.
  • Remove the exemption that allows products containing asbestos that are not usually reported to have to be reported.
  • Remove the exemption that allows companies to not have to report a substance if it is an impurity or a by-product.
  • Require processors of asbestos to do CDR reporting instead of currently not having to do so.

The petition is asking for transparency about asbestos use in the United States. The organizations want more detailed information about the companies that bring asbestos into the United States, where and how they use asbestos, as well as how much asbestos they use. The organizations also want any reports that are submitted about asbestos to be made available publicly, even if they contain confidential business information. This information can be overridden if the information being disclosed is necessary to protect the environment and people’s health against unreasonable risk of injury.

This petition is clearly a response to the Significant New Use Rule (SNUR) created by the EPA. This rule potentially allows more asbestos uses in the future. It requires importers and manufacturers to obtain approval from the EPA before starting or resuming asbestos manufacturing. This does not prevent asbestos from being used; it just makes organizations obtain approval, which could be very easy to do. It is also not reviewing exposures from abandoned uses of asbestos. This could make asbestos exposure more common and could endanger more lives. These problems need fixed and the petition is trying to do this.

Sources:

“ADAO and More Public Health Leaders Demand More Information on Asbestos from EPA” Gazette Xtra (September 26, 2018). [Link]

“Chemical Data Reporting under the Toxic Substances Control Act” Environmental Protection Agency [Link]

“Critics outraged over EPA’s proposal on asbestos” CBS News (August 7, 2018). [Link]

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