Statement: EPA proposes new action on carcinogenic asbestos

Media Contacts
Emily Rogers

Former Zero Out Toxics, Advocate, PIRG

Taran Volckhausen

Former Communications Associate, The Public Interest Network

WASHINGTON — EPA announced a proposed rule on Thursday that would require comprehensive reporting on asbestos, a carcinogenic substance that can still be legally imported and used in the United States. Asbestos is used in industry to make a wide variety of commercial products, such as industrial vinyl and cleaning products, and can be found as a contaminant in some consumer products. Exposure to asbestos can cause mesothelioma, a rare cancer of the chest and stomach lining, lung cancer and asbestosis, which causes permanent lung damage.

There is overwhelming evidence that there is no safe level of exposure to asbestos. The National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) has said that asbestos exposure causes cancer and other serious illnesses in humans. In the U.S., asbestos exposure contributes to thousands of Americans dying from asbestos-related illness and disease each year.

In response, PIRG Zero Out Toxics Advocate Emily Rogers issued the following statement:

“Comprehensive reporting on asbestos is long overdue. We have known for decades that exposure to this toxin causes serious and often deadly illness and disease but have failed to act. With thousands of American deaths happening each year because of asbestos, I applaud the steps EPA is taking to ramp up asbestos reporting. But more needs to be done. Congress should strengthen EPA’s actions by passing the Alan Reinstein Ban Asbestos Now Act, to ensure that no form of asbestos can be imported into the U.S., and that this deadly carcinogen is no longer used under any circumstances. 

EPA needs to protect Americans against all toxic substances. The environmental regulatory agency should also ensure that asbestos is not replaced by other harmful chemicals, such as PFAS ‘forever chemicals.’”