EPA Names Asbestos Among First Chemicals to Undergo Risk Evaluation Under Frank R. Lautenberg Chemical Safety for the 21st Century Act

Posted on December 6, 2016

In September, we reported that Senator Barbara Boxer (D-California) urged the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency to include all forms of asbestos in the first set of 10 chemicals to be reviewed under the Frank R. Lautenberg Chemical Safety for the 21st Century Act. She got her wish last week when the EPA announced asbestos is on the list.

The EPA is moving forward on chemical reform, with asbestos being among the first to undergo risk evaluation. The 10 chemicals were whittled down from a list of 90 that were selected in 2014 “based on their potential for high hazard and exposure as well as other considerations,” according to a Nov. 29 press release from the EPA.

The 10 chemicals to be reviewed are:

  • 1,4-Dioxane
  • 1-Bromopropane
  • Asbestos
  • Carbon Tetrachloride
  • Cyclic Aliphatic Bromide Cluster
  • Methylene Chloride
  • N-methylpyrrolidone
  • Pigment Violet 29
  • Tetrachloroethylene, also known as perchloroethylene
  • Trichloroethylene

“Under the new law, we now have the power to require safety reviews of all chemicals in the marketplace,” said Jim Jones, assistant administrator of the of Office of Chemical Safety and Pollution Prevention. “We can ensure the public that we will deliver on the promise to better protect public health and the environment.”

The evaluations must be completed within three years and will determine whether the chemicals present “an unreasonable risk to humans and the environment.” If so, the EPA must mitigate that risk within two years. The evaluation for each chemical starts with a scoping document to include the hazard(s), exposure(s), conditions of use, and the potentially exposed or susceptible subpopulation(s) the agency plans to consider for the evaluation.

In the list of the 10 chemicals, the EPA notes that asbestos is used in chlor-alkali production,  consumer products, coatings and compounds, plastics, roofing products, and other applications, and is also found in certain imported products such as brakes, friction products, gaskets, packing materials and building materials.

The EPA reports that asbestos is a known human carcinogen and it can cause acute and chronic toxicity from inhalation exposures.

For more information see “Assessing and Managing Chemicals under TSCA” on the EPA’s website.