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  • Posted March 18, 2024

EPA Issues Final Rule Banning Asbestos

The last remnants of asbestos use in the United States have now been banned by the Environmental Protection Agency.

While the known carcinogen has already been largely banned, the EPA announced Monday that it would ban the last remaining form of asbestos -- chrysotile asbestos -- from use.

It's currently found in car brake linings and gaskets and is used in the manufacture of chlorine bleach and sodium hydroxide, also known as caustic soda.

“It's been more than 50 years since EPA first sought to ban some uses of asbestos and we're closer than ever to finishing the job,” Scott Faber, senior vice president of government affairs at the Environmental Working Group, said in the EPA announcement. “For too long, polluters have been allowed to make, use and release toxics like asbestos and PFAS without regard for our health.” 

EPA Administrator Michael Regan said the rule was a final step to shield the public against asbestos.

"With today's ban, EPA is finally slamming the door on a chemical so dangerous that has been banned in over 50 countries,'' Regan told the Associated Press. ”This historic ban is more than 30 years in the making, and it's thanks to amendments that Congress made in 2016 to fix the Toxic Substance Control Act."

Exposure to asbestos has long been linked to cancers, especially mesothelioma, and it may be responsible for 40,000 U.S. deaths annually, according to the EPA.

“The science is clear: Asbestos is a known carcinogen that has severe impacts on public health. This action is just the beginning as we work to protect all American families, workers and communities from toxic chemicals,'' Regan said.

The legal road to a total ban on asbestos has been a long one. The EPA originally banned the substance back in 1991, but that ban was later overturned by the courts. However, the 2016 legislation granted the EPA the power to evaluate the safety of various chemicals and put restrictions on their use in place if they were found to be harmful.

The use of asbestos -- once common in home insulation -- had already been declining in the United States for decades, the AP reported.

More information

Find out about the asbestos-mesothelioma connection at the American Lung Association.

SOURCE: EPA, news release, March 18, 2024; Associated Press

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