The United States Environmental Protection Agency is moving to tighten data collection processes for asbestos, bringing the nation closer to a complete ban on the product.
In a ruling in California six months ago, a US District Court judge ruled that the EPA must improve its data collection, labelling the current standards as ineffective. The ruling came after several attorneys general challenged the EPA’s lack of more stringent asbestos safety regulations.
“The longtime failure of the EPA to regulate asbestos is an environmental injustice and public health tragedy,” said California Attorney General Rob Bonta.
President of the Asbestos Disease Awareness Organisation, Linda Reinstein, said it was a “huge win for public health.”
Moving forward, the EPA will implement stricter rules regarding asbestos data collection, which is likely to eliminate exemptions under the current regulations.
The new rules will come into effect in the next nine months, with the new agreement directing the EPA to address the data-gathering deficiencies that were identified in the California court ruling in December.
Previously, voluntary reporting used by processors, manufacturers and importers was considered to be sufficient.
“The data collected in response to this rule could help inform EPA’s ongoing efforts to evaluate whether asbestos presents an unreasonable risk of injury to health or the environment, and any future risk management actions taken by the agency to eliminate any such risk,” an EPA spokesperson said, via The Mesothelioma Center at Asbestos.com.
“The agency is committed to protecting against unreasonable risk.”
Ms Reinstein said that “the lack of reporting on asbestos has been a gaping hole in the EPA’s efforts to protect Americans from exposure to this lethal carcinogen.”
“We’ve always said that we can’t protect Americans from asbestos if we don’t know where it is.”