In a welcome holiday announcement, we learned this week of a legal victory in the fight against asbestos! After EPA’s 2018 denial of a petition filed by our allies at Asbestos Disease Awareness Organization (ADAO) to make sure EPA collects information on asbestos use and exposure was upheld, we joined ADAO and other public health groups in a legal challenge that was upheld this week. This information is needed to evaluate and eliminate the serious risks of cancer and lung disease that this most dangerous of chemical substances poses to the American public.
Let’s remember that asbestos was the iconic toxic chemical that made one of the best cases for reforming the federal Toxic Substance Control Act (TSCA.) Asbestos-related diseases take tens of thousands of lives each year, and EPA tried for years to use its TSCA authority to ban it only to be stopped by the courts.
When TSCA was reformed in 2016, EPA got stronger authority and greater responsibility to take action on chemicals like asbestos. But when EPA doesn’t use the tools it has available, EPA doesn’t get all the necessary facts about how much asbestos is imported into the U.S. and what happens once it gets here. This means it can’t meet its responsibility to protect our families and communities from its deadly effects.
In his decision, U.S. District Court Judge Edward J. Chen emphasized “how little information EPA has about the quantities of asbestos-containing products in the U.S. chain of commerce and the overall consumer and occupational exposure for downstream uses of asbestos.”
He held that EPA’s “unwillingness to act stands in the face of its significant statutory authority to require that this information be reported via the CDR rule and runs contrary to its obligation to collect reasonably available information to inform and facilitate its regulatory obligations under TSCA.”
Abundant thanks to our colleagues at ADAO who led this petition and suit, with a big tip of the hat to ADAO co-founder and president Linda Reinstein and counsel Bob Sussman. Safer Chemicals Healthy Families is proud to have joined with our colleagues at the American Public Health Association (APHA), Center for Environmental Health (CEH), Defend Our Health (formerly Environmental Health Strategies Center), and Environmental Working Group (EWG), as well as eleven Attorneys General in the legal action.
See the ADAO press release here.