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EPA Selects Asbestos for Evaluation, May Result in Restriction or Ban

Following months of speculation, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) selected asbestos as 1 of the 10 substances they will evaluate under the recent powers granted to them under the amended Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA).

The act was amended back in June of 2016 by the Frank R. Lautenberg Chemical Safety for the 21st Century Act, which required the EPA to select 10 of the chemicals included in their “Work Plan” list from 2014. The EPA will set new restrictions or bans on the substances based on the results of their evaluation.

Many supporters of this amendment cited asbestos as a key reason for their support. According to data provided by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), over 15,000 people in the United States die from asbestos diseases every single year – despite this, the substance remains unbanned.

Linda Lipsen, the CEO of the American Association for Justice released a statement supporting the EPA’s decision to include asbestos in their evaluation:

“The American Association for Justice applauds the EPA for taking this critical first step to end one of the longest running public health catastrophes in history. Despite a century’s worth of conclusive evidence that asbestos causes excruciating, fatal diseases, this toxin has not been banned and continues to be found in our homes, schools, and workplaces.”

She continued:

“Instead of supporting asbestos policies that protect the public, asbestos corporations have repeatedly turned to state and federal lawmakers for legislative handouts that will allow them to evade accountability for poisoning and killing Americans. We commend the EPA for exercising its authority under the bipartisan TSCA reform law to begin the process of ending this man-made public health disaster.”

Much of the worry around the selection revolved around President-elect Trump’s previously stated opinions on the use of asbestos. If asbestos was not selected, it would be up to his administration to decide whether or not to pursue further evaluations. Given his testimony from a Senate Homeland Security Subcommittee hearing on July 21, 2005, supporters of this amendment worried that policies about the use of this deadly substance would remain unchanged:

“[T]here’s a whole debate about asbestos. I mean, a lot of people could say that if the World Trade Center had asbestos, it would not have burned down. It would not have melted, okay? A lot of people think asbestos... a lot of people in my industry think asbestos is the greatest fire-proofing material ever made.”

Thousands of Americans are diagnosed with mesothelioma every year following exposure to asbestos, and thousands more are exposed to the deadly substance through renovation projects, negligence, etc. Due to its widespread use in construction for the better part of the 20th century, we are still unsure of just how much remains in buildings across the nation. Until the last of it is finally removed and safely disposed of, people remain at risk.

If you were recently diagnosed with mesothelioma, contact the Houston mesothelioma attorneys at Bailey Cowan Heckaman PLLC today. We have spent decades fighting for clients across the nation, and are ready to provide you with the expert legal representation they deserve. Give us a call to speak with a member of our firm, or fill out our online form to request a free case evaluation from one of our mesothelioma lawyers.

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