ADAO Condemns EPA for Its Incomplete and Weak Risk Evaluation for Asbestos, Citing that It Ignores Public Health Experts and Its Own Science Advisors
Bifurcated Narrow Asbestos Evaluation Delays Steps to a Critical Ban
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
December 31, 2020
WASHINGTON, DC – The Asbestos Disease Awareness Organization (ADAO), an independent nonprofit dedicated to preventing asbestos exposure, expressed its disappointment in the Final Risk Evaluation for Asbestos, Part 1: Chrysotile Asbestos released today by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).
“EPA’s final risk evaluation ignores the numerous recommendations of its own scientific advisors and other independent experts by claiming that these deficiencies will be addressed in a future Part 2 evaluation. Based on this sleight-of-hand maneuver, the Agency has issued a piecemeal and dangerously incomplete evaluation that overlooks numerous sources of asbestos exposure and risk, and understates the enormous toll of disease and death for which asbestos is responsible,” said ADAO co-founder and president Linda Reinstein.
The Final Risk Evaluation for Asbestos Part 1:
- Only addresses chrysotile asbestos, ignoring the 5 other asbestos fiber types;
- Fails to consider known asbestos health effects, such as asbestosis and ovarian cancer;
- Does not address environmental pathways of exposure;
- Does not account for the risks of legacy asbestos present in millions of buildings across the US;
- Makes no effort to assess asbestos contamination of widely used consumer and industrial products containing talc; and
- Is based on grossly incomplete information about current asbestos exposure and use.
These are all omissions that were emphasized by EPA’s Science Advisory Committee on Chemicals (SACC), which said in its August report that the draft evaluation “was not considered adequate and resulted in low confidence in the conclusions.”
“EPA bases the Part 2 evaluation on the need to address the risks of the legacy asbestos products that remain in use in millions of buildings across the US,” said ADAO’s counsel, Robert M. Sussman. “However, EPA has delayed addressing these dangerous products for four years and still has no schedule for evaluating them even after the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals ruled in 2019 that EPA is obligated to address legacy asbestos under TSCA. For EPA to excuse a flawed, incomplete and unprotective evaluation on the basis of an unenforceable and vague promise to strengthen the evaluation in the future is irresponsible and puts the public at risk.”
“Once again, by kicking the can down the road, EPA is ensuring that it will be at least four more years before it completes a comprehensive risk evaluation and many more years before it takes effective action to remove the threat of asbestos from workplaces, retail shelves, homes, and schools,” stated Reinstein. “Without an asbestos ban, both raw asbestos and asbestos-contaminated products will enter our country without responsibility or accountability. Americans can’t afford to wait for EPA to do their job. We urge Congress to take action and pass the Alan Reinstein Ban Asbestos Now Act (ARBAN).”
The shortcomings of the final evaluation were underscored in the December 22 decision of U.S. District Court Judge Edward J. Chen, which ruled that EPA has unlawfully failed to use its authority under the Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA) to obtain basic information on asbestos use and exposure and ordering it to require submission of this information by industry.
“Judge Chen’s decision could not be clearer that EPA lacks a sound understanding of the risks presented by asbestos and supports the conclusion of the SACC that EPA must go back to the drawing board and obtain the information it now lacks,” said ADAO’s counsel, Robert M. Sussman.
Asbestos kills nearly 40,000 Americans each year from asbestos-caused diseases such as mesothelioma, asbestosis and cancers of the lung, ovaries, and larynx.
About the Asbestos Disease Awareness Organization
The Asbestos Disease Awareness Organization (ADAO) is a global leader in combining education, advocacy, and community initiatives to prevent and end asbestos exposure. ADAO seeks to raise public awareness about the dangers of asbestos, advocate for an asbestos ban, and protect asbestos victims’ civil rights. ADAO, a registered 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization, does not make legal referrals. For more information, visit asbestosdiseaseawareness.org.
Kim Cecchini, (202) 391-5205