The Environmental Safety Company on Tuesday proposed a rule to lastly ban asbestos, a carcinogen that’s nonetheless utilized in some chlorine bleach, brake pads and different merchandise and kills 1000’s of Individuals yearly.
The proposal marks a serious growth of EPA regulation underneath a landmark 2016 regulation that overhauled guidelines governing tens of 1000’s of poisonous chemical compounds in on a regular basis merchandise, from family cleaners to clothes and furnishings.
The proposed rule would ban chrysotile asbestos, the one ongoing use of asbestos in the USA. The substance is present in merchandise akin to brake linings and gaskets, and is used to fabricate chlorine bleach and sodium hydroxide, also called caustic soda.
EPA Administrator Michael Regan known as the rule an essential step to guard public well being and “lastly put an finish to using harmful asbestos in the USA.”
The proposed ban “demonstrates important progress in our work to implement the (2016) regulation and take daring, long-overdue actions to guard these most susceptible amongst us,” Regan stated.
The 2016 regulation approved new guidelines for tens of 1000’s of poisonous chemical compounds present in on a regular basis merchandise, together with substances akin to asbestos and trichloroethylene that for many years have been identified to trigger most cancers but have been largely unregulated underneath federal regulation. Often known as the Frank Lautenberg Chemical Security Act, the regulation was supposed to clear up a hodgepodge of state guidelines governing chemical compounds and replace the Poisonous Substances Management Act, a 1976 regulation that had remained unchanged for 40 years.
The EPA moved to ban asbestos in 1989, however the rule was largely overturned by a 1991 court docket resolution that weakened EPA’s authority underneath TSCA to deal with dangers to human well being from asbestos or different present chemical compounds. The 2016 regulation required the EPA to guage chemical compounds and put in place protections towards unreasonable dangers.
On the signing ceremony for the brand new regulation, then-President Barack Obama stated the U.S. chemical system underneath TSCA was “so complicated, so burdensome that our nation hasn’t even been in a position to uphold a ban on asbestos. I believe quite a lot of Individuals could be shocked by all that.”
Asbestos, which was as soon as frequent in residence insulation and different merchandise, is banned in additional than 50 international locations and its use within the U.S. has been declining for many years. The one type of asbestos identified to be presently imported, processed or distributed to be used within the U.S. is chrysotile asbestos, which is imported primarily from Brazil and Russia. It’s utilized by the chlor-alkali business, which produces bleach, caustic soda and different merchandise.
Most client merchandise that traditionally contained chrysotile asbestos have been discontinued.
Whereas chlorine is a generally used disinfectant in water remedy, there are solely 10 chlor-alkali vegetation within the U.S. that also use asbestos diaphragms to supply chlorine and sodium hydroxide. The vegetation are largely positioned in Louisiana and Texas.
The usage of asbestos diaphragms has been declining and now accounts for about one-third of the chlor-alkali manufacturing within the U.S., EPA stated.
The American Chemistry Council, a lobbying group for the chemical business, slammed the EPA proposal, saying it might trigger substantial hurt to America’s consuming water provide by lowering the home provide of chlorine.
About 98% of public consuming water remedy amenities use some type of chlorine-based disinfectant, the group stated, including that offer chain disruptions skilled by water utilities during the last couple of years “have highlighted the very important significance of chlorine to water disinfection.”
Chlorine is also utilized in manufacturing of batteries, windmills and photo voltaic panels, the group stated.
Linda Reinstein, co-founder and president of the Asbestos Illness Consciousness Group, known as the EPA rule “a landmark step ahead,” however stated “extra work must be performed to forestall publicity to asbestos and defend Individuals.” Reinstein, whose husband, Alan, died from mesothelioma, known as on Congress to approve a invoice named for her husband that bans asbestos outright.
“We nonetheless want Congress to step as much as defend all of the Alans on the market,” she stated in an interview.
The proposed ban would take impact two years after the efficient date of the ultimate rule.
Along with addressing the numerous human well being results of chrysotile asbestos publicity, the proposed rule can be anticipated to scale back air air pollution and greenhouse gasoline emissions related to chlor-alkali manufacturing, an energy-intensive industrial operation.
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