ADAO and EWG Findings: Asbestos Imports Surge as Trump White House Moves to Keep Deadly Carcinogen Legal
New Government Data: Asbestos Imports Rise 2,000 Percent Between July and August
WASHINGTON, DC – October 23, 2018 – The Asbestos Disease Awareness Organization (ADAO) and Environmental Working Group (EWG) today announced findings according to federal import data analyzed by both groups, that asbestos imports to the U.S. soared by nearly 2,000 percent between July and August.
According to the U.S. International Trade Commission and the Department of Commerce, in August alone, the U.S. imported 272 metric tons of asbestos, compared to 13 metric tons in July.
The striking increase is a major indicator that industry is not concerned about President Trump and the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) taking any steps to ban or even reduce the use and import of asbestos.
As the U.S. Geological Survey reported, the only remaining user of raw asbestos in the U.S. is the chlor-alkali industry, which uses it to make semipermeable asbestos diaphragms needed in the manufacturing of chlorine and sodium chloride.
The EPA was given new powers to ban and restrict dangerous substances like asbestos when Congress passed legislation in 2016 overhauling the federal Toxic Substances Control Act, or TSCA.
Asbestos is one of the first 10 substances the EPA is assessing for safety following the updates made to the revamped chemicals law. Although the EPA has not yet made a decision about the safety of asbestos under the new TSCA, recent actions by the Trump administration lay the groundwork for the agency to find that asbestos is safe and should remain legal.
Last week, the White House released its Fall 2018 deregulatory agenda, further indicating that Trump’s EPA, under acting Administrator Andrew Wheeler, has no plans to implement a ban of asbestos.
The last asbestos mine in the U.S. closed in 2002, forcing the chlor-alkali industry and other users to rely on imports.
In 2017, all of the asbestos imported into and used in the U.S. came from Brazil. Between January and August of this year, the industry spent nearly $1 million to import 555 metric tons of asbestos from Brazil and Russia. Last year, the U.S. imported more than 341 metric tons of asbestos, and 2018 imports are expected to double.