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EPA Forced to Close Asbestos Reporting Loopholes

Since the link between asbestos and deadly diseases was established in the 1970s, the use of asbestos has been heavily restricted. Despite the widespread ban, however, there are still some legal uses. The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) sets legal limits for asbestos in certain products and processes, and they have been accused by some of not cracking down hard enough on the harmful substance. A new federal ruling may change that by requiring more thorough reporting on products that contain asbestos.

Asbestos is a naturally occurring mineral used for a variety of purposes in the early twentieth century. It is versatile, inexpensive, and flame and heat-resistant, making it an ideal additive in numerous products. When asbestos particles become airborne, however, they can be inhaled or ingested and cause serious respiratory conditions, such as mesothelioma, lung cancer, or asbestosis.

Incomplete Data Creates Exposure Risk

Beginning in 2016, manufacturers and importers have been required to submit a chemical risk review for their products under the Chemical Data Reporting rule. Under the Trump administration, the EPA allowed companies to voluntarily report on asbestos levels in their products, which the agency said provided them with enough information to understand the potential risks of exposure. However, the EPA’s own Science Advisory Committee on Chemicals reported a lack of data on asbestos levels, which put consumers at risk. In the past few years, third-party testing has revealed asbestos in certain products, such as crayons, makeup, and talc-based baby powder; this data was not disclosed to the EPA by the manufacturers because it was discovered by other entities.

There are loopholes in the EPA’s reporting requirements that have allowed asbestos products to slip by. Companies are currently not required to report asbestos that is added unintentionally due to a chemical impurity or that is present in products for which the end use does not require the asbestos to be handled as a separate article. It also does not require reporting on the processing of existing products that contain asbestos, including repackaging. The agency denied a petition to close these loopholes in early 2019, resulting in lawsuits filed by 10 states, the District of Columbia, and several public health advocacy organizations.

The ruling in December 2020 by a U.S. District Judge will force the EPA to expand its data collection requirements and close its reporting loopholes. The ruling cites the Science Advisory Committee’s comments on the agency’s 2020 risk evaluation, which calls their asbestos data inadequate and unreliable. Moving forward, the EPA will have to amend its Chemical Data Reporting rule to close existing loopholes and expand their reporting requirements in order to perform an accurate risk evaluation on all products made in and imported to the U.S. If the agency does not appeal this decision, they will have to set new reporting deadlines for companies to submit the required data.

Philadelphia Asbestos Attorneys at Shein Law Advocate for Victims of Asbestos Exposure

If you or a loved one has been diagnosed with mesothelioma or another asbestos-related disease, contact the Philadelphia mesothelioma attorneys at Shein Law. We will thoroughly review the facts of your case to determine who is at-fault for your asbestos exposure and obtain the compensation you deserve. With offices conveniently located in Philadelphia and Pennsauken, New Jersey, we help asbestos exposure victims and their families throughout New Jersey and Pennsylvania. Call us at 877-743-4652 or contact us online for an initial consultation.

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