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EPA proposes new rule to ban chrysotile asbestos

Michael Regan, administrator of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency speaks in Lorain, Ohio on February 17. He announced a new rule banning chrysotile asbestos on Tuesday. File Photo by Aaron Josefczyk/UPI
Michael Regan, administrator of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency speaks in Lorain, Ohio on February 17. He announced a new rule banning chrysotile asbestos on Tuesday. File Photo by Aaron Josefczyk/UPI | License Photo

April 5 (UPI) -- The White House said on Tuesday that the Environmental Protection Agency will announce new rules prohibiting the use and manufacturing of chrysotile asbestos, which has been tied to lung cancer and mesothelioma.

Chrysotile asbestos is commonly part of such items as roofing materials, textiles and cement as well some automotive parts that include brakes and gaskets.

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The EPA said the new suggested rule would be the first risk management rule issued under the new process for evaluating and addressing the safety of existing chemicals under the 2016 Toxic Substances Control Act.

"Today, we're taking an important step forward to protect public health and finally put an end to the use of dangerous asbestos in the United States," EPA Administrator Michael Regan said in a statement.

"This historic proposed ban would protect the American people from exposure to chrysotile asbestos, a known carcinogen, and demonstrates significant progress in our work to implement the TSCA law and take bold, long-overdue actions to protect those most vulnerable among us."

The proposal would correct a 1991 court decision that essentially overturned EPA's 1989 ban on asbestos significantly weakened EPA's authority to address risks to human health from asbestos and other existing chemicals.

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"Use of asbestos in the U.S. has been declining for decades, and its use is banned in over 50 countries," the EPA said in a statement. "Although there are several known types, the only form of asbestos known to be currently imported, processed, or distributed for use in the United States is chrysotile."

The agency said raw chrysotile asbestos currently imported into the United States is used exclusively by the Chlor-alkali industry but most consumer products that historically contained chrysotile asbestos have been discontinued.

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