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Assessing and Managing Chemicals under TSCA

Final Risk Evaluation for Asbestos, Part 1: Chrysotile Asbestos

As part of EPA’s mission to protect human health and the environment, the agency has completed a final risk evaluation for asbestos, part 1: chrysotile asbestos under the Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA). In the final risk evaluation, EPA reviewed 32 conditions of use for chrysotile asbestos, the only form of asbestos known to be imported, processed, or distributed for use in the United States, including in manufacturing, processing, distribution in commerce, occupational and consumer uses, and disposal.

Part 1 of the risk evaluation for asbestos contains the agency’s final determinations on which conditions of use present unreasonable risks to human health or the environment based on a robust review of the scientific data. To prepare part 1 of the final risk evaluation, EPA reviewed extensive scientific literature, conducted modeling and other risk assessment activities, and collected toxicity, exposure, and hazard information from many sources.

Releasing a final risk evaluation is the last step in the scientific evaluation process required by TSCA and will guide the agency’s efforts to issue regulations to address unreasonable risks associated with this chemical. EPA has one year to propose and take public comments on any risk management actions.

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Risk Evaluation Part 1 Findings

In the December 2020 final risk evaluation for asbestos, part 1: chrysotile asbestos, EPA reviewed the exposures and hazards of chrysotile asbestos uses and made the following final risk findings. Part 1 of the final risk evaluation includes input from the public and peer reviewers as required by TSCA and associated regulations. In making these unreasonable risk determinations, EPA considered the hazards and exposure, magnitude of risk, exposed population, severity of the hazard, uncertainties, and other factors.

EPA found no unreasonable risks to the environment from any conditions of use. For all the conditions of use included in part 1 of the final risk evaluation, EPA found no unreasonable risks to the environment under any of the conditions of use.

EPA found unreasonable risks to human health for uses of chrysotile asbestos.

  • Consumers and Bystanders: EPA found unreasonable risks to consumers and bystanders from all consumer uses of chrysotile asbestos. Most consumer products containing chrysotile asbestos have been discontinued. Consumer products still available and for which EPA found unreasonable risk include aftermarket automotive brakes/linings and certain gaskets. Risks to consumers can come from the inhalation of chrysotile asbestos.
  • Workers and Occupational Non-Users: Commercial chrysotile asbestos uses for which EPA found unreasonable risk to workers include chlor-alkali diaphragms, sheet gaskets, brake blocks, aftermarket automotive brakes/linings, other vehicle friction products, and other gaskets. Additionally, EPA found unreasonable risks to workers nearby but not in direct contact with chrysotile asbestos (known as occupational non-users) for the use of chlor-alkali diaphragms, sheet gaskets, brake blocks, and other gaskets. Risks to workers and occupational non-users can come from the inhalation of chrysotile asbestos.

Using Products Safely and Alternatives

For any chemical product, EPA strongly recommends that users carefully follow all instructions on the product’s label and on the safety data sheets. Workers using asbestos products should continue to follow the label/safety data sheets and applicable workplace regulations and should properly use appropriate personal protective equipment, as needed.

Consumers wishing to avoid exposure should ask retailers if products contain asbestos and consider not using products that contain asbestos. Most asbestos-containing products have been discontinued. Some uses of asbestos are banned, and EPA issued a final rule that strengthens the agency’s ability to review asbestos products that are no longer on the market before they could be sold again in the United States. Learn more about EPA actions to protect the public from exposure to asbestos.

Next Steps and Public Participation

The next step in the process required by TSCA is risk management. EPA will propose and take public comments on actions to address the unreasonable risks identified in part 1 of the final risk evaluation. According to TSCA, the agency must finalize those actions within two years of completing the final risk evaluation. EPA’s proposed regulations could include requirements on how the chemical is used, or limiting or prohibiting the manufacture, processing, distribution in commerce, use, or disposal of this chemical substance, as applicable.

Pursuing Part 2 of the Risk Evaluation for Asbestos. As a result of the November 2019 decision of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit in Safer Chemicals Healthy Families v. EPA, the Agency will also evaluate legacy asbestos uses and associated disposals of asbestos in a supplemental effort that will be the focus of part 2 of the risk evaluation for asbestos. Legacy uses and associated disposals of asbestos are conditions of use for which manufacture (including import), processing and distribution in commerce no longer occur, but where use and disposal are still known, intended, or reasonably foreseen to occur (e.g., asbestos in older buildings).

EPA is committed to being open and transparent as the agency follows the process required by the law for evaluating unreasonable risks from chemicals. EPA will continue to keep the public updated as the agency moves through the risk management process for chrysotile asbestos and in development of part 2 of the risk evaluation for asbestos (legacy uses and associated disposals). Following the comprehensive risk evaluation process required by TSCA ensures that the public has confidence in EPA’s final conclusions about whether a chemical substance poses any unreasonable risks to health or the environment under the conditions of use. This then allows the public to have confidence in the risk management actions taken to ensure the safety of chemicals on the market.

There will be additional opportunities for public participation. Just like the risk evaluation process, there will be opportunities for public comment as EPA works to propose and finalize risk management actions for asbestos. You can stay informed by signing up for our email alerts or checking the public docket at www.regulations.gov. 

Final Risk Evaluation and Supporting Files

The final risk evaluation for asbestos, part 1: Chrysotile Asbestos, non-technical summary, response to comments, and other supporting documents are below.

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