The battle to protect US citizens from asbestos has been lengthy, with 40,000 Americans losing their lives annually due to exposure. Numerous settlements have been reached but with little impact in providing the real protection necessary.
Concurrently, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has been anything but comprehensive in its work to identify the actual dangers of all forms of asbestos. For years, they attempted to impose regulations governed by the 1976 Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA) with little success.
Meanwhile, people died from exposure to seemingly harmless insulation, plaster, and floor tiles in homes, schools, and places of employment.
Still, asbestos use continued unabated, with few restrictions and prohibitions.
Legal Actions May Bring Long-Awaited Results
Recently, several asbestos litigation settlements were reached between multiple public health organizations and the EPA. Two, in particular, will more than likely change the regulatory process when it comes to the deadly fiber.
Specifically, the settlements will give “teeth” to the TSCA when it comes to the EPA’s risk evaluation process. Instead of studying one type of asbestos fiber, part of the agency’s baffling past practices, they will now look at all of them. Part of that review will be an examination of cancer and non-cancer health hazards. They will also look at “known, intended, or reasonably foreseen” conditions of asbestos use they just happened to leave out in their first review.
Their deadline for “more realistic evaluations” to protect public health is set for December 1, 2024.
The EPA’s lack of action over decades resulted in countless lives lost due to asbestos exposure. While the future of this “new era” remains uncertain, it could represent the brightest spotlight on a deadly fiber. With more awareness may come more action.
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