EPA Proposes New Rules for Reporting Asbestos Use

In April, the EPA proposed a rule which would ban the last legal asbestos use in the U.S.

Federal regulators have proposed new rules for reporting asbestos use in the United States, in the anticipation of a pending ban.

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced the proposed rule May 5, in the Federal Register.

The “Asbestos; Reporting and Recordkeeping Requirements” rule would add reporting requirements for asbestos under the Toxic Substances Control Act. Companies that manufacture or process asbestos or asbestos-containing materials would have to disclose the quantities of asbestos, types used and provide data on employee asbestos exposure events.

The EPA indicates this would be a one-time reporting requirement, covering the prior four years, based on the date this proposed rule is finalized. By that point, the EPA’s chrysotile asbestos ban, proposed last month, would theoretically be in place, making any future reporting unnecessary.

Manufacturers, importers and processors will have nine months after the rule is effective to submit the required data.

The information would be used by the EPA and other federal agencies in considering potential future regulatory actions. This may include risk evaluation and risk management activities.

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The EPA proposed ban of chrysotile asbestos will eliminate the last legally allowed form of asbestos in the United States. It is found in aftermarket brakes and linings, sheet gaskets, and other vehicle parts.

The rule was proposed following a final risk evaluation issued by the EPA in December 2020, which found unreasonable risks to human health from conditions of use associated with six categories of products that included asbestos use in the chlor-alkali industry, sheet gaskets and other types of gaskets and automotive brakes.

The risks of asbestos exposure, which can cause lung cancer, asbestosis and mesothelioma, have been known for about a century, although they did not get widely publicized until 1964. Most modern, first-world countries banned asbestos use in its entirety decades ago. But not the United States.

The EPA’s determination of asbestos risks follows decades-long mesothelioma litigation, which is often referred to as the longest running mass tort in the history of the United States.

Asbestos lawsuits have been filed by more than 600,000 people against approximately 6,000 defendants, all raising similar allegations that manufacturers and sellers of products containing asbestos knew about the risk of mesothelioma and other asbestos injuries, yet failed to provide adequate warnings.

The EPA is requesting public comment on all aspects of the proposed rule. Comments should be submitted with docket identification number EPA-HQ-OPPT-2021-0357 through the Federal eRulemaking Portal. General information can be obtained at TSCA-Hotline, ABVI-Goodwill, 422 South Clinton Ave., Rochester, NY 14620.

Comments must be received on or before July 5, 2022.

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