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EPA publishes second installment of risk evaluation for asbestos

First published by Safety+Health an NSC publication

Photo: ATSDR

Washington — The Environmental Protection Agency is seeking comment on a draft of Part 2 of a final risk evaluation that concludes asbestos – a known human carcinogen – presents an unreasonable health risk to workers under certain conditions.

Used in chlor-alkali production, consumer products, coatings and compounds, plastics, roofing products, and other applications, asbestos is among the first 10 chemicals under evaluation for potential health and environmental risks under the Frank R. Lautenberg Chemical Safety for the 21st Century Act.

Released Dec. 28 and announced via a notice published in the Dec. 29 Federal Register, Part 2 of the evaluation focuses on legacy uses and disposal of asbestos, defined by EPA as “conditions of use for which manufacture (including import), processing and distribution of commerce no longer occur, but where use and disposal are still known, intended or reasonably foreseen to occur (e.g., asbestos in older buildings).”

Part 2 addresses five other types of asbestos fiber beyond chrysotile – the focus of Part I, released early last year – as well as talc, which “has been implicated as a potential source of asbestos exposure,” the agency says.

After criticizing the first installment of the risk evaluation as “piecemeal and dangerously incomplete,” the nonprofit Asbestos Disease Awareness Organization, in a press release, applauds the agency for using a more informed and complete approach in proceeding with Part 2.

“[EPA] has taken a critical step in fulfilling its long-delayed obligation to evaluate the risks of legacy asbestos under the Toxic Substances Control Act,” ADAO President and co-founder Linda Reinstein said. “The Part 2 risk evaluation will finally provide a robust and comprehensive evaluation of legacy asbestos that can be found in millions of homes, schools and workplaces.”

Reinstein’s late husband, Alan, died from mesothelioma in 2006. She remains a proponent of an EPA ban on asbestos.

Comments on the draft of Part 2 of the risk evaluation are due Feb. 14. The agency is required to publish a final version on or before Dec. 1, 2024.

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