The End to Asbestos-Containing Products May Be In Sight
Updated: Jul 18, 2022
Did you know that more than 60 countries have enacted a ban on asbestos? Would it surprise you the United States is not one of them? While it has been 20 years since the last asbestos mine closed in this country and after countless studies have shown the health-related exposure risks, imported products that contain asbestos are still imported into the U.S. legally. Building materials from flooring and roofing materials to aftermarket automotive brakes/linings and other vehicle friction parts are just some of the products that can contain this dangerous mineral.
But it appears the possible permanent solution is on the horizon.
Home to Indoor Environmental Concepts (IEC), New Jersey was the first state in the nation to officially ban asbestos-containing products. Bill A4416, which prohibits the sale or distribution of such products that contain more than 1% asbestos by weight, passed in May 2019 and took effect a few months later on September 1st. Other states may not have banned the mineral completely, some have enacted stricter regulations.
In April of this year, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) brought asbestos to the forefront, proposing a rule to “prohibit ongoing uses of Chrysotile asbestos” under the 2016 Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA). It is two part:
EPA will propose to prohibit manufacture (including import), processing, distribution in commerce, and commercial use of Chrysotile asbestos for all ongoing uses of Chrysotile asbestos.
EPA will also propose targeted disposal and record keeping requirements in line with industry standards, Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) requirements, and the Asbestos National Emission Standards for Hazardous Air Pollutants (NESHAP).
Despite clear data showing the link between breathing high levels of asbestos fibers and increased risk of lung cancer, mesothelioma and asbestosis, there are detractors, and the EPA recently extended the 60-day comment period through July 13, 2022. It will take a complete ban and ongoing diligent inspections, monitoring and testing to provide a long-term remedy. However, the current proposed rule does not go far enough in addressing the legacy asbestos contained in thousands of buildings and homes across the U.S.
In the meantime, engaging with experienced asbestos professionals, such as those at IEC, can effectively implement these proactive mitigation and remediation steps which can go a long way in protecting air quality, reducing the incidents of illness linked to asbestos as well as provide regulatory compliance and risk management.