EPA Finalizes New Asbestos Reporting Rule
Amid continuing concerns about the long-term risk of mesothelioma from asbestos decades after most uses of the toxic substance were banned in the U.S., environmental regulators have finalized a new rule that puts in place new reporting requirements for manufacturers and importers of any asbestos products.
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) issued a press release earlier this month, announcing the final approval of the “Asbestos; Reporting and Recordkeeping Requirements” rule, which adds reporting requirements for asbestos under the Toxic Substances Control Act.
The asbestos reporting rule was first proposed in May 2022, and will require companies that manufacture or process asbestos or asbestos-containing materials to disclose the quantities of asbestos, types used and provide data on employee asbestos exposure events.
The EPA indicates this will be a one-time reporting requirement, covering the prior four years. Manufacturers, importers and processors will have nine months after the rule is effective to submit the required data.
The information will be used by the EPA and other federal agencies in considering potential future regulatory actions. This may include risk evaluation and risk management activities.
The asbestos reporting 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.
“We know that exposure to asbestos causes cancer and other serious health problems that still result in thousands of people dying every year, and today we’re continuing our work to protect people from this dangerous chemical,” Michal Freedhoff, EPA’s assistant administrator for the Office of Chemical Safety and Pollution Prevention, said in the press release. “We’ve already proposed to ban chrysotile asbestos, and the data we’ll receive from this final rule will help us to better evaluate and address the health risks from the remaining uses and types of asbestos.”
The final rule applies to any company who manufactured, imported or processed asbestos between 2019 and 2022 with annual sales above $500,000 during those years. The required information will include quantities of asbestos manufactured or processed, the type of asbestos used and employee data.
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.
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