State AGs Push for Tougher Asbestos Rules
With the advent of the first Significant New Use Rule (SNUR) in years, the EPA ignited disputes about asbestos regulations all over the country. Known primarily for its role in causing pleural malignant mesothelioma, asbestos is a toxic mineral substance that can cause a wide range of cancers. However, it isn’t banned yet – and critics have been concerned that the SNUR would open the gateway to new asbestos uses.
Now, 15 State Attorneys General have joined a coalition to demand tougher rules on asbestos. By seeking to eliminate some of the current asbestos exemptions and reduce the chance of new asbestos uses, these state AGs and other public officials are hopeful that we could ultimately reduce thousands of mesothelioma deaths in the long term.
Why Is Asbestos Dangerous?
Asbestos uses have been heavily regulated ever since 1976, when the Toxic Substances Control Act was first passed by the United States Congress. By forcing companies to account for all uses of asbestos, and offering resources to help remove and extract remaining materials from old buildings, the EPA was instrumental to the fight against asbestos from the late 70’s onward.
However, after decades of using asbestos in everything from buildings to manufacturing applications to beauty products, millions of Americans still found themselves getting sick from mesothelioma and other dangerous cancers. Even today, the American Cancer Society estimates that more than 3,000 new mesothelioma cases are diagnosed every year.
Here are some of the most common historical causes of asbestos exposure:
- Living near a mine or otherwise contaminated site
- Working in construction, processing, manufacturing, or mining
- Serving in the military and/or living in a military base or ship
- Removing asbestos without proper hazard gear
- Using talcum powder products for cosmetic or hygiene purposes
Modifying the Toxic Substances Control Act
Even though more than 60 other developed countries have banned all new uses of asbestos, the EPA has actually taken some recent steps to de-regulate this known carcinogen. In June 2016, the EPA announced that it would be performing a long-overdue risk evaluation on asbestos, as part of the Frank R. Lautenberg Chemical Safety for the 21st Century Act. This landmark legislation was designed to protect the public, and many advocates believed it would give the Toxic Substances Control Act the teeth it needed to eradicate asbestos for good.
However, in 2018 the EPA proposed their Significant New Use Rule, which effectively rendered the 2016 legislation void. Including an exemption for “naturally occurring substances,” the SNUR allows manufacturing companies to avoid proper asbestos reporting, provided that the asbestos was relatively unprocessed. It also allows for the possibility of new asbestos uses, as long as the EPA reviews and approves them first. Finally, the SNUR states that it will not evaluate certain current uses, which include woven products, cement products, and some industrial applications.
Fighting for Mesothelioma Victims Nationwide
Arguing that the EPA should eliminate the asbestos use exemptions included in the 2018 SNUR, many State Attorneys General are now joining forces to hold the EPA accountable for this irresponsible shift in policy. The State AGs are also demanding that the EPA initiate a new rulemaking process that would help the TSCA gain valuable data about asbestos uses. Time will only tell if these efforts are successful in Washington.
In the meantime, our Florida mesothelioma lawyers can help if you’ve been diagnosed with mesothelioma or another form of cancer after asbestos exposure. We’ve been helping clients stand up for their rights since 1985, and we’re not afraid to face down major corporations or agencies that have acted negligently.
Give us a call at (888) 554-2030 to see how The Ferraro Law Firm can help you with your mesothelioma case.