EPA Finalizes Scope for Part Two of Asbestos Risk Evaluation
Released on June 29, 2022.
Today, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is releasing the final scope document for the Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA) Risk Evaluation for Asbestos Part 2: Supplemental Evaluation Including Legacy Uses and Associated Disposals of Asbestos. The final scope document explains EPA’s plan for part 2 of the risk evaluation for asbestos, including the conditions of use, hazards, exposures, and the potentially exposed or susceptible subpopulations EPA will consider in the risk evaluation.
Following EPA’s June 2016 designation of asbestos as one the first 10 chemicals to undergo risk evaluation under TSCA, the previous Administration initially focused the risk evaluation for asbestos on chrysotile asbestos as this is the only asbestos fiber type that is currently imported, processed, or distributed in the United States.
However, 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, EPA determined that the risk evaluation for asbestos would be issued in two parts. EPA completed part 1 of the risk evaluation for the ongoing uses of chrysotile asbestos in December 2020. EPA is evaluating legacy uses and associated disposals, other types of asbestos fibers in addition to chrysotile, and conditions of use of asbestos-containing talc in a supplemental effort that is the focus of part 2 of the risk evaluation for asbestos. Legacy uses are those uses for which there is no ongoing or prospective manufacturing, processing, or distribution for use.
For part 2 of the risk evaluation for asbestos, EPA will consider chrysotile (serpentine), crocidolite (riebeckite), amosite (cummingtonite-grunerite), anthophyllite, tremolite, actinolite, and Libby Amphibole Asbestos (and its tremolite, winchite, and richterite constituents). This broadening to additional fiber types is appropriate given the focus on legacy uses, particularly asbestos-containing building material. Additionally, EPA will assess the relevant conditions of use of asbestos-containing talc because talc has been implicated as a potential source of asbestos exposure.
EPA used feedback from public comments received on the draft scoping document for part 2 of the risk evaluation for asbestos to inform the final document. The scope document also reflects EPA’s policy changes on risk evaluations announced in June 2021. These policy changes include the addition of exposure pathways that may also be regulated outside of TSCA, like air, water, and disposal.
In addition, EPA will not assume that personal protective equipment (PPE) will always be properly utilized in occupational settings in our future risk determinations, including for part 2 of the risk evaluation for asbestos, even though some facilities might be using PPE as one means to reduce workers’ exposures. EPA understands that there could be occupational safety protections in place at workplace locations. However, not assuming use of PPE reflects EPA’s recognition that unreasonable risk may exist for subpopulations of workers that may be highly exposed because they are not covered by Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) standards, their employers are out of compliance with OSHA standards, or because OSHA has not issued a permissible exposure limit. EPA’s decision not to assume that PPE is always and appropriately used should not be viewed as an indication that EPA believes there is widespread non-compliance with applicable OSHA standards. Use of PPE and other ways industry protects its workers, will be assessed during the risk evaluation but will only be considered during risk management as a potential way to address unreasonable risks.
EPA will publish the final risk evaluation for asbestos, part 2 by December 1, 2024, as required by court order.