EPA proposes action that would limit the use of asbestos

The EPA announced it is releasing a new proposal for public comment that would enable the agency to prevent new uses of asbestos.

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The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced it is releasing a significant new use rule (SNUR) proposal for public comment that would enable the agency to prevent new uses of asbestos—the first such action on asbestos ever proposed. Additionally, the EPA released the first ten problem formulation documents and the EPA’s systemic review approach document for public comment.

“These actions provide the American people with transparency and an opportunity to comment on how EPA plans to evaluate the 10 chemicals undergoing risk evaluation, select studies, and use the best available science to ensure chemicals in the marketplace are safe,” EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt says. “At the same time, we are moving forward to take important, unprecedented action on asbestos.”

The problem formulation documents refine the scope of risk evaluations for the first 10 chemicals selected under the Frank R. Lautenberg Chemical Safety for the 21st Century Act, which amended the Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA). The agency’s problem formulation documents are an important interim step prior to completing and publishing the final risk evaluations by December 2019. They clarify the chemical uses that EPA expects to evaluate and describe how EPA expects to conduct the evaluations. Comments are due in 45 days upon publication in the Federal Register.

EPA’s systematic review approach document will guide EPA’s selection and review of studies in addition to providing the public with continued transparency regarding how the agency plans to evaluate scientific information. Comments are due in 45 days upon publication in the Federal Register.

For asbestos, EPA is proposing a SNUR for certain uses of asbestos (including asbestos-containing goods) that would require manufacturers and importers to receive EPA approval before starting or resuming manufacturing. This would also pertain to the importing or processing of asbestos. This review process would provide EPA with the opportunity to evaluate the intended use of asbestos and, when necessary, take action to prohibit or limit the use. Comments are due in 60 days upon publication in the Federal Register.