Press Releases

‘Public Health Victory,’ EPA to Address Deadly Legacy Asbestos

EPA & ADAO Reach Settlements to Remedy Deficiencies in Asbestos Risk Evaluations and Compel Timely Action on Legacy Asbestos 

OAKLAND, CA – The Asbestos Disease Awareness Organization (ADAO), an independent nonprofit dedicated to preventing asbestos exposure, today announced it had reached two landmark legal settlements with the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) that strengthen and broaden its work to evaluate the health risks of asbestos under the Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA). 

The Center for Environmental Health (CEH) joined ADAO’s suit and settlements together with the American Public Health Association (APHA), Environmental Information Association (EIA), Safer Chemicals, Healthy Families (SCHF), and Vermont Public Interest Research Group (VPIRG).

“This is a public health victory. Millions of people have suffered from lung damage due to asbestos exposure, even as we continue to confront a global pandemic that threatens our ability to breathe,” said Michael Green, CEO of CEH. “It’s long past time to ban deadly asbestos, which has killed so many people already.”

According to ADAO’s research, more than 1 million people in the United States have died from asbestos-caused illness and disease since the EPA first tried to ban asbestos in 1989. Every year, over 40,000 additional people die in the U.S. alone because of asbestos. These settlements are a critical step in protecting the public from exposure, illness and death.

The first settlement resolves ADAO’s January 26, 2021 challenge in the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals to the agency’s Part I Asbestos Risk Evaluation. In the second settlement, EPA and ADAO entered into a consent decree to resolve ADAO’s May 18, 2021 suit in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California to require the Agency to carry out its obligation to evaluate the risks of “legacy” asbestos found in millions of buildings and in consumer products across the United States by December 1, 2024.

“After years of delay, we will finally have an enforceable court order that assures that EPA performs its legal duty to determine the risks of legacy asbestos,” said ADAO Counsel Bob Sussman. “This is encouraging progress in the long battle for effective use of TSCA to recognize and protect the public from the enormous harm that asbestos is still inflicting across the country.”

“The Biden EPA has recognized the need to fix the flaws in the incomplete and unprotective risk evaluation conducted by the Trump Administration,” said Linda Reinstein, President and Co-Founder of ADAO. “While we are pleased the EPA has taken steps to better evaluate the risks of asbestos, we still need a full and complete ban on asbestos imports and use in the United States,” continued Reinstein. “Legislation is the fastest and most effective path for putting this ban in place. Nearly 70 countries around the world have banned asbestos and we must do the same. This is why this Congress must continue efforts to reintroduce and pass the Alan Reinstein Ban Asbestos Now Act.”