The Toxic Substances Control Act, amended in 2016, gave the Environmental Protection Agency broad authority to investigate and regulate certain toxic substances. Among those identified was asbestos.
EPA only conducting assessment on “new” uses of asbestos
Under the current framework, the EPA is focusing on “new and proposed” uses of asbestos. For example, asbestos is currently used in certain chemical manufacturing processes and products such as gaskets. The EPA will make its risk assessment based only on new and proposed uses.
In a recent Congressional hearing, the head of the EPA, Scott Pruitt, suggested that the EPA is still considering whether it will also look at existing products and structures containing asbestos in determining the danger asbestos poses to the public. Asbestos, widely used throughout the 20th Century, is still found in numerous buildings, including shipyards, industrial sites and residential homes.
If the EPA does include existing sources of asbestos, it is possible that it will more heavily regulate the highly carcinogenic mineral fiber.
No safe amount of exposure
Regardless of the EPAs ultimate decision, asbestos is likely to continue to be a significant health hazard for some time. Thousands of people, particularly in the construction and demolition industries, are diagnosed with mesothelioma every year after being exposed to asbestos dust on the job.
While the EPA is currently conducting a risk assessment, it is clear that asbestos is a dangerous and highly toxic mineral. The medical community has been adamant that asbestos dust is carcinogenic, and this is backed by nearly a century of research.
Legal options available
For people who have been exposed to asbestos, there are legal options. Trusts have been created to help workers who have been exposed to asbestos get financial help with medical bills, pain and suffering, and other costs. Families of loved ones who have tragically lost their lives to mesothelioma or lung cancer may also be able to obtain financial compensation.