Agency is ‘aware of all ongoing uses of asbestos’

2 January 2019 / Data, TSCA, United States

The US EPA has denied an NGO petition to require increased reporting of asbestos under the TSCA chemical data reporting (CDR) rule.

Filed under section 21 of TSCA in September, the petition had sought for the EPA to amend the CDR rule to eliminate certain exemptions and require additional reporting on asbestos. The petitioning NGOs argued that this was needed to provide more information on current usage in support of its ongoing TSCA risk evaluation.

But the EPA informed the petitioners on 21 December that it was denying the request. In a pre-publication Federal Register notice, the agency said it believes it “is aware of all ongoing uses of asbestos and already has the information that EPA would receive if EPA were to amend the CDR requirements.”

Furthermore, it added, it would not be able to finalise the requested amendments in time to inform its risk evaluation, given the roughly 18-month timeframe necessary for a rulemaking process to propose and agree such changes.

With regard to other requests from the petitioners, the agency said:

  • it did not think that lifting or modifying any existing reporting exemptions – including for naturally occurring substances, chemicals in articles, impurities and byproducts or for low volumes – would result in the agency receiving new information that would change its understanding of asbestos’s use; and
  • a section 21 petition is “not a vehicle” that can be used to compel EPA to lift confidential business information (CBI) protection, nor have the groups made a sufficient case to demonstrate that such disclosure is necessary.

The petition was filed by NGOs the Asbestos Disease Awareness Organization (ADAO), the American Public Health Association (APHA), the Center for Environmental Health (CEH), the Environmental Working Group (EWG), the Environmental Health Strategy Center (EHSC) and Safer Chemicals, Healthy Families (SCHF).

Linda Reinstein, ADAO president, said the EPA’s petition denial represented a “betrayal of all Americans who seek protection against deadly asbestos exposure”.

The groups have the right to appeal against the agency’s decision in a US district court within 60 days. The ADAO is “currently reviewing legal options for compelling the EPA to use its authority under TSCA to increase transparency of both asbestos imports and use by industry”, according to an EWG statement.

This article was updated on 3 January to include a statement from the ADAO.