The EPA was founded under the Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA) in 1970. One of the EPA’s goals is to protect the public from the bad health affects that accompany exposure to asbestos. What has the EPA done to protect the public against asbestos specifically?
In 1989, the EPA imposed a partial ban on the processing, importation, manufacture, and distribution of a few asbestos-containing products. After August 25 of this year, the EPA also banned new uses of asbestos to enter the market. All of these bans remain in place. The April 2019 Final Rule does not undo any of that.
What did the April 2019 Final Rule do? Without the Environmental Protection Agency evaluating them, asbestos products no longer on the market can note return there. An evaluation by the EPA may put in place any restrictions necessary for the product to be safe or may prohibit the product’s return. The April 2019 Rule does not make it possible for products banned by the 1989 rule to return to the market. The products covered under this rule could have returned to the market at any time before the April 2019 Final Rule was passed.
So what exactly does this April 2019 rule do? It strengthens the EPA’s ability to review many products no longer on the market in the United States before they can be sold here again. This rule also gives the EPA the authority to either ban use of certain products or to establish restrictions. The end goal of the rules are to protect the public health; under this rule the public is protected from all uses of asbestos no longer for sale and not covered by other laws and regulations. This list includes some insulation, certain vinyl floor tiles, and some manufacturing products and clothing, among many other things. The use and production of these products are prohibited until the EPA reviews them and either prohibits their use or puts in place needed restrictions.
Through this rule, the EPA is not allowing new uses of asbestos. Those subject to the rule must notify the EPA 90 days minimum before beginning the manufacturing processing or import of any asbestos or products containing asbestos that are covered by the rule. Until the EPA runs a thorough review of the product and adds restrictions or prohibits the product’s use, the asbestos uses are prohibited on the market.
Every use prohibited in the past remains banned. No past prohibitions are amended by the rule, which does not offer a way for banned products to return to the market.
Many products are covered with this rule. A few of these are beater-add gaskets, arc chutes, sealants, adhesives, roof and non-roof coatings, reinforced plastics, missile liner, roofing felt, woven products, and other building products.
The 1989 rule prohibits five uses of asbestos as well as any “new use” asbestos products. In the ruling, “new use” refers to products whose importation, manufacture or processing would be begun for the first time since August 25, 1989.
Under the TSCA, the manufacture, processing, importation and distribution of a variety of products are banned. These products include the following: corrugated paper, rollboard, commercial paper, flooring felt, and specialty paper.
Under the Clean Air Act (CAA), asbestos pipe and block insulation on components to a facility such as hot water tanks and boilers are banned if the product is friable, whether preformed or wet-applied and friable after drying. Also banned are products surfacing asbestos-containing materials that are applied with a spray method, and applying materials with spray if the materials contain more than 1% asbestos. Asbestos in artificial fireplace embers and in wall patching compounds are banned under the Consumer Product Safety Act. The use of filters containing asbestos in the manufacturing, processing, and packing of pharmaceutical products is banned under the Food and Drug Administration.When the EPA chose the first ten chemicals to undergo risk evaluation under the TSCA, asbestos was chosen to be a part of the list because of the health risks of the mineral and the importance to protect the public from these risks. There are still a few asbestos-containing products under going risk evaluation. If the EPA finds in any of these products unreasonable risk, the agency will promptly address the risks; this may include banning or restricting the use of the product.