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Assessing and Managing Chemicals under TSCA

Risk Evaluation for Asbestos

Asbestos is currently undergoing risk evaluation under the Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA). The 2016 amendments to TSCA directed EPA to pick its first ten chemicals for evaluation from the 2014 update of the TSCA Work Plan for Chemical Assessments; asbestos is on the Work Plan. In March 2020, EPA released the draft risk evaluation for asbestos.

In the draft risk evaluation for asbestos, EPA did not find unreasonable risks to the environment under any of the conditions of use. Additionally, the draft risk evaluation discusses potential risks to workers, occupational non-users, consumers, and bystanders.  These initial determinations may change as our evaluation becomes more refined through the public comment and peer review processes.

Learn EPA's actions to protect the public from exposure to asbestos inluding a partial ban and a rule to ensure products that are no longer on the market can't return without EPA's review.

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Background on Asbestos

Although there are several known types of asbestos, the only form of asbestos known to be imported, processed, or distributed for use in the United States at the posting of this draft risk evaluation is chrysotile. Raw chrysotile asbestos currently imported into the U.S. is used exclusively by the chlor-alkali industry. Based on 2019 data, the total amount of raw asbestos imported into the U.S. was 750 metric tons. Certain asbestos-containing products, like sheet gaskets, brake blocks, aftermarket automotive brakes/linings, other vehicle friction products, and other gaskets are also imported into the U.S.

Uses of Asbestos

In the draft risk evaluation, EPA evaluated 33 conditions of use associated with the manufacturing (including import), processing, distribution, use, and disposal of asbestos. Uses include the following:

  • Processing and industrial use of asbestos diaphragms in the chlor-alkali industry
  • Aftermarket automotive asbestos-containing brakes/linings
  • Distribution of asbestos-containing products

In June 2017, EPA released the scope document for asbestos which included the hazards, exposures, conditions of use, and the potentially exposed or susceptible subpopulations EPA expected to consider in its risk evaluation of asbestos conducted pursuant to TSCA section 6(b). In June 2018, EPA released the problem formulation for asbestos which refined the scope of the asbestos risk evaluation by clarifying the chemical conditions of use that EPA expected to evaluate and describing how EPA expected to conduct the evaluation.

After releasing the scope documents for each of the first 10 chemicals undergoing risk evaluation under TSCA, the dockets for each of the first 10 chemicals were open for public comments. Read EPA’s Responses to Public Comments Received on the Scope Documents for the First Ten Chemicals for Risk Evaluation under TSCA. This document addresses cross-cutting public comments received in response to EPA publishing the scope documents.

Draft Risk Evaluation

In March 2020, EPA released the draft risk evaluation for asbestos. Following publication of the Federal Register Notice on April 3, 2020, it became available for public comment for 60 days in docket EPA-HQ-OPPT-2019-0501.