Read the EPA Asbestos Final Rule Documentation in its entirety here
The EPA issued a “Final Rule” in April 2019 to ensure that asbestos products that are no longer on the market cannot return to commerce without the EPA evaluating them and putting in place any necessary restrictions or prohibiting use. The rule came into being due to a loophole being exploited by manufacturers using asbestos in products that would re-enter the market.
Any asbestos-containing materials entering the market in any way must be evaluated as safe by the EPA, or EPA could put restrictions on its use. Recycling asbestos and asbestos-containing materials into new or refurbished forms is not allowed.
What Forms of Asbestos Does the Final Rule Mention?
The EPA Asbestos Final Rule specifically mentions several types of asbestos-containing material and product uses that were problems prior to the rule. The uses that were specifically covered by the Final Rule include:
- Adhesives, Sealants, and Roof and Non-Roof Coatings
- Arc Chutes
- Beater-Add Gaskets
- Cement Products*
- Extruded Sealant Tape and Other Tape
- Filler for Acetylene Cylinders
- Friction Materials
- High-Grade Electrical Paper
- Missile Liner
- Pipeline Wrap
- Reinforced Plastics
- Roofing Felt
- Separators in Fuel Cells and Batteries
- Vinyl-Asbestos Floor Tile
- Woven Products*
- Any Other Building Materials
- Any Use of Asbestos Not Otherwise Identified
* Not a product category described in the same terms in the Regulatory Impact Analysis; this broader product category is used generally to describe a number of specific product categories identified during the TSCA section 6 risk evaluation process.
Many of these products would re-enter the market with ‘banned’ asbestos-containing materials present due to a loophole in the law. The loophole allowed asbestos that was already circulating to be reused in new products as no new asbestos was being used. The Final Rule was put in place to stop this from happening.
Why Was the Final Rule Enacted?
The Final Rule was put in place to protect workers and consumers from potentially dangerous asbestos-containing materials still in circulation. The asbestos being ‘reused’ by certain manufacturers was not reevaluated in any way and had the potential to cause serious health risks.
The Final Rule shut down most of the remaining ‘asbestos manufacturing’ still happening before April 2019. Any asbestos entering a US market in any way must be evaluated and certified by the EPA to ensure it is being used safely and responsibly.
Recent Updates to the Final Rule
December 2020 Final Risk Evaluation for Asbestos
Chrysotile Asbestos was found to have unreasonable risks to human health for ongoing use and no unreasonable risk to the environment from any condition of use. The EPA is moving immediately to risk management for the ongoing chrysotile asbestos use where unreasonable risk was found and will work as quickly as possible to propose and finalize actions to protect against the unreasonable risks.
The research being conducted by the EPA on Chrysotile Asbestos is ongoing and more information will be made available as soon as they have a ruling. However, the 2019 Final Rule does not change the National Emission Standard for Hazardous Air Pollutants (NESHAP), and inspection of buildings for asbestos must occur even if the building was built after 2019.
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
EPA Official Statement & Documentation