EPA Plans New Safety Regulations for Asbestos, Phthalates in 2023
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has announced plans to provide new safety rulings about chrysotile asbestos and other toxic chemicals this year, as part of an updated agenda that outlines actions the regulatory officials will focus on over the next twelve months.
Under the Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA), the agency is required to issue a comprehensive agenda twice a year, to explain upcoming or recently completed regulatory actions.
On January 4, the EPA issued it’s Fall 2022 Unified Agenda, which outlines safety rulings, regulatory actions and two chemical-specific rule makings that will be addressed this year.
New Asbestos Restrictions
In 2021, the EPA issued a final risk evaluation for chrysotile asbestos, indicating that its use posed an unreasonable risk to consumers, workers, and bystanders. The EPA then proposed a rule on April 12, 2022 to address the unreasonable risk of injury to health linked to chrysotile asbestos.
The new Unified Agenda proposes new restrictions on chrysotile asbestos that will prohibit the manufacture, import, processing, distribution, and commercial use of chrysotile asbestos for diaphragms used in the chloralkali industry.
The ban includes the use of chrysotile asbestos in a range of products, including chrysotile asbestos-containing sheet gaskets used in chemical production, chrysotile asbestos-containing brake blocks used in the oil industry, aftermarket automotive chrysotile asbestos-containing brakes/linings, chrysotile asbestos vehicle friction products, and other chrysotile asbestos-containing gaskets.
The proposed rule would also prohibit the manufacture, import, processing, and distribution of aftermarket automotive chrysotile asbestos-containing brakes/linings for consumer use and other chrysotile asbestos-containing gaskets for consumer use.
The EPA plans to review public comments and issue a final rule in October 2023.
The new agenda also calls for regulations for disposal and record-keeping requirements for the manufacturing of chrysotile asbestos-containing products under the TSCA.
The rulemaking would require manufacturers of asbestos-containing products to report exposure-related information, quantities of asbestos, and asbestos-containing articles to the EPA, which would use the information to determine future regulations of asbestos and plans to issue a final rule in May 2023.
Asbestos Health Risks
The risks of asbestos exposure are well documented, and 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.
DINP Added to Toxic Chemicals List
The other chemical included in the Fall 2022 agenda was Diisononyl Phthalate (DINP), with the EPA issuing a proposed rule to add DINP to the list of toxic chemicals subject to reporting requirements.
On August 15, 2022, the EPA proposed adding DINP to the toxic chemical list and requested comment on the updated DINP hazard assessment. The agency indicates it will issue a final rule in May 2023.
DINP is a plasticizer used in a wide variety of plastic products. The EPA has determined the chemical meets the EPA’s toxicity criteria because it can reasonably be anticipated to cause cancer and serious or irreversible chronic health effects in humans. The chemical has been linked to developmental disorders, kidney toxicity and liver toxicity, according to the EPA.
Other Fall 2022 Agenda items included updating final rules for a list of various chemicals, updates to procedures for chemical risk evaluations, revisions to the TSCA, new use rules for phthalates, flame retardants and other solvents, and fee updates for regulatory actions linked to proposed rules and updates.
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