The EPA evaluated and placed asbestos under the (amended) Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA) and completed the final risk evaluation in December 2020. The EPA also agreed to publish a second part of the asbestos risk evaluation on December 1, 2024. This second part is intended to cover legacy uses and disposal of asbestos since the first act.
The Risk Evaluation had the following conclusions:
- Consumers and Bystanders: EPA found unreasonable risks to consumers and bystanders from all consumer uses of chrysotile asbestos. Most consumer products containing chrysotile asbestos have been discontinued. Consumer products still available and for which EPA found unreasonable risk include aftermarket automotive brakes/linings and certain gaskets. Risks to consumers can come from the inhalation of chrysotile asbestos.
- Workers and Occupational Non-Users: Commercial chrysotile asbestos uses for which EPA found an unreasonable risk to workers include Chlor-alkali diaphragms, sheet gaskets, brake blocks, aftermarket automotive brakes/linings, other vehicle friction products, and other gaskets. Additionally, EPA found unreasonable risks to workers nearby but not in direct contact with chrysotile asbestos (known as occupational non-users) for the use of Chlor-alkali diaphragms, sheet gaskets, brake blocks, and other gaskets. Risks to workers and occupational non-users can come from the inhalation of chrysotile asbestos.
The EPA is currently moving forward on risk management actions proposed in the final evaluation. These risk management steps focus on mitigating environmental factors and disposal methods & options.
EPA Asbestos Definitions
To properly understand the EPA’s ongoing risk evaluations and processes for disposal and mitigation a few definitions are needed. The provided definitions are directly from the EPA in regards to the final risk evaluation.
Asbestos: Asbestiform varieties of six fiber types – chrysotile (serpentine), crocidolite (riebeckite), amosite (cummingtonite-grunerite), anthophyllite, tremolite or actinolite.” The latter five fiber types are amphibole varieties.
Chrysotile Asbestos. One of the six fiber types of asbestos is defined above. Chrysotile asbestos is the only fiber type currently being imported, processed, or distributed in the United States.
Risk Evaluation for Asbestos. The risk evaluation for asbestos will consist of two parts: Part 1 is on chrysotile asbestos (finalized December 2020) and Part 2 will be on legacy uses and associated disposal, including the five other fiber types of asbestos (scope and risk evaluation are forthcoming).
The EPA’s final risk evaluation on asbestos in 2020 only covered chrysotile asbestos (the only type of asbestos currently used in the US). The 2nd part of the final assessment in 2024 intends to cover the other 5 types of asbestos.
What’s Happening With Asbestos Regulations in 2022
Until 2024, the EPA plans to evaluate legacy uses and associated disposals, other types of asbestos fibers (in addition to chrysotile), and conditions of use of asbestos in talc and talc-containing products in a supplemental effort that is the focus of part 2 of the risk evaluation for asbestos.
The draft scope includes the conditions of use, hazards, exposures, and the potentially exposed or susceptible subpopulations that EPA plans to consider in conducting the risk evaluation for this chemical substance.
As EPA continues to move through the risk evaluation process there will be additional opportunities for public comment, including a public comment period on part 2 of the risk evaluation for asbestos. In addition to public comment periods, EPA will continue to engage with stakeholders as it develops part 2 of the risk evaluation.
What to do With Asbestos Disposal & Regulations
Following current EPA procedures and protocols is imperative to any industry in contact with asbestos, asbestos disposal, or asbestos recycling.
Going forward, the EPA is going to focus its efforts on identifying potential hazards associated with non-chrysotile (Amphibole) asbestos products. Legacy uses and future disposal of non-chrysotile asbestos will have more information published by the EPA as conclusions are gathered.
As of 2022, the EPA suggests there are no unreasonable risks posed to the environment from asbestos since it is a naturally occurring mineral.
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: