Asbestos included in EPA’s first list of chemicals to evaluate for safety concerns

2 Dec 2016 by under News

EPA logo 100x100 Asbestos included in EPAs first list of chemicals to evaluate for safety concernsIn June, President Barack Obama signed the Frank R. Lautenberg Chemical Safety for the 21st Century Act into law as an amendment to the Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA), the U.S.’s primary chemical management law. It marked the first time American chemical regulatory law had been updated in nearly 40 years.

Tuesday marked the beginning of the new effects of the bipartisan law, which now requires the Environmental Protection Agency () to evaluate existing chemicals with clear and enforceable deadlines, outlines new risk-based safety standards and aims to increase public transparency for chemical information, according to the EPA website.

After its passage, the law required the EPA to release a list of the first 10 chemicals it would evaluate by Dec. 19, and the list made its public appearance earlier this week.

, known to cause mesothelioma, a rare, fatal cancer that normally affects the lining of the lungs and abdomen, is set to finally be evaluated by the EPA to determine its risk to humans and potentially be further regulated or banned. Despite the silicate minerals’ known health risks, its continued use due to “red tape written into federal law” has long been touted as an example of the brokenness of chemical law, according to a piece by the International Business Times.

“Under the new law, we now have the power to require safety reviews of all chemicals in the marketplace,” said Jim Jones, assistant administrator of the of Office of Chemical Safety and Pollution Prevention in a release. “We can ensure the public that we will deliver on the promise to better protect public health and the environment.”

The American Chemistry Council, a large chemical industry trade organization that supported the bill, said in a release, “It is important to note that a chemical’s inclusion in this first group of 10 chemicals does not in and of itself indicate anything about the safety of the chemical. Its listing is simply an acknowledgment by the Agency that it plans to conduct risk evaluations on these 10 chemicals before others.”

The Lautenburg Act, though bipartisan, was not supported by many environmental groups or public health services. Buzzfeed News reports the exclusion of lead from the list was one of the disappointments environmental groups had with the EPA’s first list of chemicals.

The agency estimated it could take approximately five years to evaluate a chemical. By the end of 2019, the law requires the EPA to have at least 20 chemical risk valuations ongoing at any given time. The chemicals are being selected from of the list of 90 chemicals on the 2014 Update to the TSCA Work Plan.

 

 

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