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EPA Proposes New Asbestos Guidelines Despite Knowledge of its Toxicity
What is a SNUR? you might rightly ask. The acronym stands for Significant New Use Rule, and that’s what the United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)’s office of Pollution Prevention and Toxics is proposing for certain uses of asbestos and goods that contain the toxic mineral. On June 1st, the EPA proposed that importers and manufacturers of asbestos obtain prior approval before importing, processing or manufacturing asbestos in this country.
On its face, that might sound like a good thing, and the EPA put a positive spin on the announcement, explaining the strategy as an “important, unprecedented action on asbestos”. But critics say the EPA is intentionally limiting the scope of the new action to “new” uses of asbestos in manufacturing and processing. They say instead the rule will create a framework for approving uses that enables the EPA to stop evaluating the dangers of exposure to asbestos from long-abandoned or discontinued uses, such as in construction materials.
In May, the EPA published “Problem Formulation of the Risk Evaluation for Asbestos”, which it says “clarifies” which uses of asbestos it expects to evaluate going forward and how it expects to conduct those evaluations. Critics say this formulation effectively limits which uses will be evaluated, leaving long-standing documentation about the dangers of the Group I carcinogen out of consideration when it evaluates permitting new uses. For instance, the effects on people of asbestos fibers in the air, ground or water will no longer be included in the EPA’s evaluation, despite the significant and well-documented health risks it poses, such as that all types of asbestos are a known cause of larynx, lung and ovarian cancers, as well as the aggressive cancer known as mesothelioma.
Despite the fact that asbestos has been banned in more than sixty countries, asbestos is not banned in the United States. Critics fear that the EPA’s new evaluation framework will allow asbestos to be reintroduced into products manufactured and imported into the U.S. which have long been devoid of the toxic substance, including adhesives, roof coatings, gaskets, sealant tapes, electrical paper, millboard, pipe insulation, roofing felt and vinyl-asbestos floor tile.
In April, new data was released which shows asbestos-related deaths in this country total nearly 40,000 annually, which is far more than previous estimates of 15,000 deaths a year.
If you or someone you love has received a mesothelioma cancer diagnosis caused by asbestos, please contact Baron & Budd online or call 855-280-7664 to learn how you might be able to take legal action against the asbestos manufacturers responsible for your suffering.