April 9, 2020

In Draft Risk Evaluation for Asbestos, EPA Finds "Unreasonable Risk" to Workers, Others

A new draft risk evaluation published by EPA in late March identifies “unreasonable risk” associated with exposure to asbestos. The draft document describes how workers, consumers, and bystanders could be adversely affected by asbestos under certain conditions of use. EPA evaluated 33 uses for asbestos, including processing and industrial use of asbestos diaphragms in the chlor-alkali industry and asbestos-containing sheet gaskets in chemical production. The agency also examined the commercial use and disposal of aftermarket automotive asbestos-containing brakes and linings, other vehicle friction products, and other asbestos-containing gaskets. Another occupational condition of use evaluated by EPA was the industrial use and disposal of asbestos-containing brake blocks in the oil industry.

EPA urges workers who use asbestos products to follow label and safety data sheet instructions, adhere to applicable workplace regulations, and use appropriate personal protective equipment.

The agency is accepting comments on its draft risk evaluation until June 2, 2020. The Science Advisory Committee on Chemicals—a federal advisory committee charged with providing scientific advice, information, and recommendations to EPA on chemicals regulated under Toxic Substances Control Act legislation—will also review the draft risk evaluation during a virtual public meeting that will be held April 27–30, 2020. EPA urges individuals to submit comments on the draft risk evaluation by April 22 to allow the committee time to review them prior to the meeting. Comments submitted after April 22 and before the June 2 deadline will still be considered. More information about the public comment period is available in the docket on Regulations.gov.

EPA’s new draft risk evaluation of asbestos is the ninth that EPA has published under the amended TSCA legislation. As amended by the 2016 Frank R. Lautenberg Chemical Safety for the 21st Century Act, TSCA requires EPA to complete risk evaluations for 10 chemicals, including asbestos, within three to three-and-a-half years. EPA has yet to issue draft risk evaluations for the remaining chemical, tetrachloroethylene.

More information on EPA’s risk evaluation for asbestos, including a PDF copy of the draft document, is available on the agency’s website.