On June 29, 2022, the EPA released the finalized version of the Asbestos Risk Evaluation Part 2. Part 2 of the asbestos risk evaluation has been in the works since the EPA first released the Toxic Substance Control Act in 2016.
A broader version of Part 2 is planned for 2024, but the current version has some major changes with regard to Part 1. The new risk evaluation focuses on assessing all types of asbestos, taking a closer look at legacy asbestos issues, and future revisions (including evaluating asbestos-contaminated talc & other materials).
EPA Examining ALL Asbestos Types
Part 2 of the Asbestos Risk Evaluation explicitly states that all types of asbestos will now be examined for potential health risks. This differs from Part 1, which only dealt with objects containing chrysotile asbestos.
The EPA mentions 6 types of asbestos that will be examined going forward (in addition to chrysotile asbestos):
- Libby Amphibole
Libby amphibole has minor chemical property differences from Tremolite asbestos, and has had a huge negative impact on Libby and Troy, Montana, which is the site of a WR Grace mine that produced vermiculite attic insulation that was contaminated with this Tremolite variant. Libby is the largest asbestos Superfund clean-up in history.
These types of asbestos are no longer imported for commercial use in the United States but still pose risks due to their presence in older buildings and materials. This leads to the biggest part of the EPA Asbestos Risk Evaluation Part 2: legacy examinations.
Legacy Asbestos Examinations
While most types of asbestos are no longer imported or produced, a lot of legacy asbestos materials exist in buildings and other sites across the US. The EPA is ramping up examinations and restrictions on legacy asbestos with the release of Part 2.
The EPA didn’t go thoroughly examine legacy asbestos and potential health risks due to exposure in Part 1. Part 2 of the Asbestos Risk Evaluation specifically mentions evaluating asbestos risks related to:
- Exposure to the general population
- Environmental risks
- Exposure to consumers
- Occupational exposure (employees, contractors, & bystanders)
The EPA also announced that it will not assume personal protective equipment will be properly used during evaluations. Asbestos evaluations according to Part 2 will assess personal protective equipment standards according to OSHA regulations.
The revised version of the Asbestos Risk Evaluation Part 2 (coming in 2024) will specifically mention risk-averse materials & situations regarding asbestos exposure.
Examining Asbestos-Contaminated Talc
A relatively new term, Naturally Occurring Asbestos (NOA) addresses products in which asbestos was not added in the manufacturing process, but is present in small amounts naturally in the mineral formation such as talc, as it is in vermiculite described above. Other minerals that contain NOA are taconite (iron ore) and some sand deposits, hence the warning on many floor tile products which contain the warning “May Contain Asbestos” due to low amounts of asbestos contaminated sand in the tile.
Commercial & industrial talc and products using talc as an ingredient have come under fire recently for being a potential source of asbestos exposure. Beauty aids and baby products are examples of product categories with a lot of talc-based products.
Recently, Johnson & Johnson was hit with tens of thousands of lawsuits due to asbestos being found in J&J Baby Powder (a talc-based powder). Public outcry led to increased media exposure, which has affected Part 2. The coming final assessments of Part 2 in 2024 will focus primarily on risk evaluation and legacy asbestos (including recycled asbestos being used in machinery that produces certain products & materials).
Illinois Environmental Contractors Association Resources
For more information on finding a local contractor to assist with asbestos information, remediation, or removal check the resources below:
- Illinois Environmental Contractors Association Members
- IECA Common Questions & Answers
- Illinois Environmental Organizations & Related Agencies