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Open for comment: Part 2 of EPA risk evaluation for asbestos

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Photo: carterdayne/iStockphoto

Washington — The Environmental Protection Agency is seeking feedback on Part 2 of a final draft risk evaluation that claims legacy use and disposal of asbestos presents an unreasonable health risk to demolition workers, firefighters and other workers in certain situations.

Published April 16, the evaluation follows EPA’s March 18 announcement of a final rule to ban the use and import of chrysotile asbestos. A known human carcinogen linked to lung cancer and mesothelioma – a cancer of the membranes in the abdomen and chest – chrysotile asbestos is the focus of Part 1.

Part 2 addresses five other types of asbestos fiber beyond chrysotile, as well as talc and Libby asbestos. The evaluation centers on legacy uses of asbestos – defined as those “without ongoing or prospective manufacturing, processing or distribution” – and “future disposal” of these uses.

Legacy uses include asbestos-containing construction materials in older homes, such as floor and ceiling tiles, pipe wrap, and isolation.

“EPA expects that the highest asbestos exposure potential exists for workers involved with cutting, sanding or grinding asbestos-containing material on a regular basis, such as construction workers who are routinely involved in demolition work,” the agency states. “Career firefighters … also may be at risk. Fire and other emergencies can distribute asbestos material in buildings, and firefighters responding to those emergencies may be exposed.”

Asbestos Disease Awareness Organization President Linda Reinstein said the draft evaluation is “long overdue.”

She added in a press release: “We have done far too little to understand how and where Americans are being exposed to legacy asbestos that lurks in our homes, schools, workplaces and in consumer products.”

Part 2 of the evaluation is set to be finalized by Dec. 1, EPA says, adding that “if EPA concludes in the final risk evaluation that this chemical presents unreasonable risk, the agency will move swiftly to develop measures to protect people from that risk.”

Comments are due June 15.

EPA is set to host a webinar on the draft risk evaluation at 3 p.m. Eastern on May 13. Anyone interested in attending must register by noon on April 25.

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