EPA Takes Another Step to Protect the Public from Asbestos Exposure by Finalizing Rule to Require Comprehensive Reporting
WASHINGTON – Today, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced a final rule to require comprehensive reporting on all six fiber types of asbestos as the agency continues its work to address exposure to this known carcinogen and strengthen the evidence that will be used to further protect people from this dangerous chemical. The rule, issued under section 8(a) of the Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA), requires asbestos manufacturers (including importers) and processors to report certain use and exposure information from the past four years, including information on asbestos-containing products (including as an impurity).
“We know that exposure to asbestos causes cancer and other serious health problems that still result in thousands of people dying every year, and today we’re continuing our work to protect people from this dangerous chemical,” said Assistant Administrator for the Office of Chemical Safety and Pollution Prevention, Michal Freedhoff. “We’ve already proposed to ban chrysotile asbestos, and the data we’ll receive from this final rule will help us to better evaluate and address the health risks from the remaining uses and types of asbestos.”
EPA intends to use data collected through this reporting rule to help inform future actions involving asbestos, including the ongoing risk evaluation for “legacy uses” of asbestos (part 2) and potential future risk management activities resulting from that risk evaluation under TSCA. Additionally, EPA’s completed risk evaluation of ongoing chrysotile asbestos uses (part 1) included uses where asbestos may be part of a product, like brake blocks and gaskets. This rule could help identify other products that contain different types of asbestos.
Under the reporting rule, manufacturers (including importers) or processors of asbestos between 2019 and 2022 with annual sales above $500,000 in any of those years are required to report exposure-related information, including quantities of asbestos manufactured or processed, types of use, and employee data. Importantly, the rule also covers asbestos-containing products (including products that contain asbestos as an impurity) and asbestos that is present as a component of a mixture. Manufacturers (including importers) and processors subject to the rule will have nine months following the effective date of the final rule to collect and submit all required information to EPA.
Under the previous Administration, EPA narrowed the scope of the TSCA risk evaluation for asbestos by only reviewing certain uses of one fiber type of this chemical, chrysotile asbestos. The agency’s failure to consider additional asbestos fibers and its decision to exclude legacy uses and associated disposals of the substance resulted in litigation. In 2019, a court ruled that the agency unlawfully excluded “legacy uses” and “associated disposal” from TSCA’s definition of “conditions of use,” resulting in the need to supplement the agency’s review of asbestos with a “part 2” risk evaluation, which focuses on legacy uses and associated disposals, other types of asbestos fibers in addition to chrysotile, and asbestos-containing talc. EPA entered into a consent decree to complete the final part 2 risk evaluation by December 1, 2024. That consent decree also included requirements for the proposal and finalization of the reporting rule released today.
Today’s final reporting rule is one of a series of actions EPA has taken to address the risks that asbestos poses to human health. Last year, EPA proposed to ban ongoing uses of chrysotile asbestos, the only known form of asbestos currently imported into the United States. Chrysotile asbestos is found in products like asbestos diaphragms, sheet gaskets, brake blocks, aftermarket automotive brakes/linings, other vehicle friction products, and other gaskets also imported into the country. EPA plans to finalize that rule later this year.