Products that contain asbestos remain in use in many different capacities throughout the world. The EPA continues to analyze many products for their safety to the general public, the environment and workers.
Much of the protections in place fall under the Toxic Substances Control Act.
The ongoing process of risk evaluation
According to information from the EPA, asbestos was one of the first 10 chemicals to undergo risk evaluation under the TSCA. This became necessary due to the health risks of asbestos. In December 2020, the EPA issued a final risk evaluation for chrysotile asbestos, the most commonly found type of asbestos.
The EPA allowed the limited, ongoing usage of chrysotile asbestos for products such as diaphragms, sheet gaskets, automotive brakes and linings and other vehicle friction products. For other products, the EPA determined that this type of asbestos presented unreasonable risks to workers, occupational non-users, consumers and bystanders. The agency did not find unreasonable risk to the environment.
The next phase of the process considers risk management solutions where chrysotile asbestos remains a threat to the public. This process is still underway.
The ability to keep harmful products off the market
Under the April 2019 Final Rule, the EPA has the authority to review asbestos products that are no longer for sale. This allows the agency to prevent harmful products from going back on sale again. This ruling covers such products as vinyl floor tiles, insulation, building materials, clothing and other products.
These measures give added powers to the EPA to protect public health when it comes to asbestos exposure. This comes at a time when the link between asbestos materials and certain health conditions such as mesothelioma remains strong.