Trump’s EPA & The Return of Asbestos?

by: The Knowledge Group

August 07, 2018


In 1989, the U.S. passed the Asbestos Ban and Phase Out Rule—yet we have not managed to effect a complete ban, and our annual asbestos-related deaths toll is approaching 40,000.

In June the Environmental Protection Agency issued a Significant New Use Rule allowing federal, case-by-case approval for new asbestos-containing products.

The New York Times recently took note that the EPA’s new framework for the assessment of risk involving potentially unhealthful chemicals now means the U.S. government will decline to evaluate the presence or impacts of 10 chemicals, whether in the ground, in the air, or in water, in risk assessments. Moreover, federal scrutiny is significantly narrowed for asbestos.

Meanwhile, U.S. industry continues to import some 480 tons of asbestos a year, mainly to make PVC or vinyl plastic pipes, roofing materials, finishing coats, and glues.

Brazil and Russia are the sources of asbestos, but Brazil is poised to ban it’s production, leaving Russia as the principle asbestos provider to the U.S. and to the world. The Russian company Asbestos has shipped hundreds of tons of asbestos worldwide.

Harms Still Lurk in Buildings and in the Environment

To address the well-known harm caused by the presence of asbestos, state and local governments will need to step forward. Construction groups are also having to step up and address the presence of harmful chemicals in the supply chain.

Not so long ago (2005), a federal grand jury indicted W. R. Grace & C. and some of its top executives over its Montana vermiculite mine. One of the large issues involved in that litigation was the company’s supply of substances containing asbestos to local buildings including schools. Also brought up in the case were corporate efforts to conceal health issues in the community from the ensuing contamination. According to the Department of Justice, 1,200 members of the community were stricken with asbestos-connected sicknesses, and some of these illnesses were fatal.

The Knowledge Group will continue to monitor this issue as we provide continuing education with an eye to developing political and commercial trends, regulatory shifts, and the contributions made to various sectors of our society.  We are set to discuss the latest in asbestos, talc and environmental due diligence on September 9th, we look forward to seeing you there.  You can register by clicking here.  This webcast will be recorded for playback purposes and is eligible for Continuing Legal Education (CLE) credit.