EPA announced on June 29, 2016, that asbestos and nine other chemicals will be reviewed for hazard and exposure risks under the new procedures of the Lautenberg Chemical Safety Act, the June 2016 amendment to the Toxic Substances Control Act. Now that the ten chemicals have been chosen, EPA must produce a risk evaluation work plan for the chemicals by June 2017 and must complete the evaluations within three years. If unreasonable risks are found, EPA must take action to mitigate the unreasonable risks.
In addition to asbestos, the other nine chemicals are:
- 1-Bromopropane, a solvent frequently used in adhesives
- 1,4-Dioxane, a stabilizer in solvents and in certain consumer products
- N-methylpyrrolidone, a solvent used in paint strippers, adhesives, and manufacturing
- Carbon Tetrachloride, a carcinogen that was once used commonly as a solvent
- Methylene Chloride, a paint stripper and degreaser
- Tetrachloroethylene, also known as perchloroethylene, a common dry cleaning solvent
- Cyclic Aliphatic Bromide Cluster, used as flame retardants
- Pigment Violet 29, a dark reddish-purple dye
According to EPA, the chemicals were chosen because of their prevalence as environmental contaminants; their widespread use, especially in consumer products; and their perceived or known hazards.
EPA issued a ban and rule to phase out the use of asbestos in 1989, but the rule was overturned on the grounds that EPA failed to provide an adequate justification for the complete ban. Corrosion Proof Fittings v. EPA, 947 F.2d 1201 (5th Cir. 1991). Various other EPA rules have diminished the uses of asbestos over the years, as TSCA reformers were particularly focused on forcing EPA to make decisions about substances like asbestos. The new safety review focuses on risks to human health and the environment. The Lautenberg Act replaced the old cost-benefit standard with a new health-based safety standard. EPA is required to promulgate use standards if it finds that asbestos poses an unreasonable risk. EPA is expected to impose additional restrictions, including a possible ban, on the entry of asbestos into U.S. commerce. The other nine chemicals are subject to the same process.
For information on these or other facets of the Lautenberg Act implementation, please consult a member of the Environmental Group.