Asbestos is a dangerous product that was used in construction materials decades ago. After it was found that exposure to asbestos could lead to lung cancer, mesothelioma and other respiratory diseases, its usage became strictly regulated in the US.
Now the Environmental Protection Agency is looking at options to use asbestos again in new uses such as “adhesives, sealants, roof and non-roof coatings; extruded sealant tape and other tape; high-grade electrical paper; millboard; pipeline wrap; reinforced plastics; roofing felt; asbestos floor tile and any other building material other than cement” according to a significant New Use Rule (SNUR) proposed by the agency.
Anyone who wishes to comment on this rule proposal can do it until August 10th.
If the proposal goes through, manufacturers might be allowed to include asbestos in their new products on the condition that they give a notice to the EPA 90 days before the manufacturing process starts and pass an agency review. In its review the agency might consider whether the new product poses an unreasonable risk.
Less and less oversight on dangerous chemicals
Since Trump became president, the EPA oversight on dangerous and toxic chemicals has been more and more lenient toward the chemical industry. For example last October the EPA decided to ditch a congressional mandated review of very dangerous chemical products in public use that include millions of tons of asbestos installed between 1970 and 2016, flame retardants and other toxins in homes, offices and industrial plants. At the time of this decision, Scott Pruitt who was at the head of the EPA explained that the review fell outside of the original mandate. He also said that the agency would still review the dangerous products but in a less aggressive manner. Critics accused the EPA of weakening the rules to favor the chemical industry. (see Chicago Tribune) and Construction Dive.