California Attorney General Xavier Becerra, with Massachusetts Attorney General Maura Healey, today led a coalition of 15 attorneys general to call on the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency Acting Administrator Andrew Wheeler to initiate rulemaking to issue a new “asbestos reporting rule” to eliminate exemptions for asbestos in the current Chemical Data Reporting rule. Asbestos is a highly hazardous chemical in widespread use throughout the U.S. The coalition argues that without requiring adequate reporting, the EPA will be unable to comply with its mandate under the Toxic Substances Control Act (known as TSCA) to prevent unreasonable risks to health and the environment presented by asbestos.
“It is widely known that asbestos is one of the most harmful chemicals known to humankind,” said Attorney General Becerra. “There is no excuse to continue allowing any amounts of toxic asbestos to pass into our community, especially into the lungs of workers and children, when we know the danger it presents. We call on Acting Administrator Wheeler to begin the process of eliminating exemptions that allow this unsafe chemical to continue to harm tens of thousands of people each year.”
“Each year, tens of thousands die from exposure to asbestos,” said Attorney General Healey. “We urge Acting Administrator Wheeler to issue a rule that will protect the lives of thousands of workers, families and children in Massachusetts and across the country.”
Asbestos – a carcinogen that takes 15,000 lives per year – is linked to diseases that are life-threatening, or cause substantial pain and suffering, including mesothelioma, fibrosis, lung cancer, gastrointestinal cancer, as well as other lung disorders and diseases. There is no safe level of exposure to this highly toxic material. Currently, the EPA does not possess, and is not collecting, the necessary comprehensive data of the importing, processing and use of asbestos and asbestos-containing articles in the U.S. The attorneys general point out that robust reporting of the distribution and use of asbestos and asbestos-containing articles is necessary to provide EPA with the data it needs to fulfill its obligations under TSCA to evaluate the risks posed by toxic chemicals like asbestos and to address those risks through regulation.
Specifically, the Attorneys General petition the Acting Administrator to initiate a rulemaking and issue a new asbestos reporting rule to:
- Eliminate “naturally occurring substance” as an exemption for asbestos reporting;
- Require processors of asbestos, as well as manufacturers, including importers, of the chemical substance to adhere to reporting requirements;
- Ensure that the impurities exemption in the Chemical Data Reporting rule does not apply to asbestos; and
- Require reporting with respect to imported articles that contain asbestos.
Joining Attorney General Becerra and Attorney General Healey in filing the petition are the attorneys general of Connecticut, Hawaii, Maryland, Maine, Minnesota, New Jersey, New York, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Vermont, and Washington, as well as the District of Columbia.
A copy of the petition can be found here.
This article was released by the Office of the California Attorney General.