Updates on Asbestos Regulation Under TSCA

News & Events

June 2, 2022

Updates on Asbestos Regulation Under TSCA

The Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA), as amended by the Frank R. Lautenberg Chemical Safety for the 21st Century Act, requires the United States Environmental Protection Agency (US EPA) to evaluate the safety of existing chemicals in three stages: prioritization, risk evaluation, and risk management.

In 2016, asbestos was prioritized as one of the first ten chemicals to undergo risk evaluation in this process. US EPA initially focused on chrysotile asbestos, as it is the only asbestos fiber type currently imported, processed, or distributed in the US. The agency completed the final risk evaluation for chrysotile asbestos (Part 1) in December, 2020. In this evaluation, the agency concluded that some consumer and commercial uses of chrysotile asbestos-containing automotive brakes and clutches, as well as the industrial use of chrysotile asbestos-containing diaphragms in the chlor-alkali industry, sheet gaskets in chemical production, and brake blocks in the oil industry, result in unreasonable cancer risks. In December, 2021, US EPA released the draft scope for Part 2 of the risk evaluation of asbestos, which is a supplemental effort to evaluate legacy uses and associated disposals of asbestos, other types of asbestos fibers in addition to chrysotile, and conditions of use of asbestos in talc and talc-containing products.

Currently, US EPA is moving forward with risk management actions related to Part 1 of the chrysotile asbestos evaluation. In April, 2022, US EPA proposed a ban of ongoing uses of chrysotile asbestos, based on its findings of unreasonable risks to human health in the Part 1 evaluation. This proposed ban would prohibit the manufacture, import, processing, distribution in commerce, and commercial use of chrysotile asbestos for:

  • Diaphragms used in the chlor-alkali industry;
  • Brake blocks used in the oil industry;
  • Aftermarket automotive brakes/linings;
  • Other chrysotile asbestos-containing vehicle friction products and gaskets (both commercial and consumer use).

Gradient submitted comments to US EPA on a draft of the Part 1 chrysotile risk evaluation and also provided comments on the Part 2 draft scope (as included in the Industrial Minerals Association – North America submission to US EPA). US EPA is accepting public comments on the proposed rule to ban ongoing uses of chrysotile asbestos until July 13, 2022. US EPA is also accepting public comments until July 5, 2022, on a proposed rule that would require those who manufactured or processed asbestos and asbestos-containing articles (including as an impurity) in the last four years to report certain exposure-related information, such as quantities of asbestos manufactured or processed and the types of use. There will be additional opportunities for public comment as US EPA continues the evaluation process for asbestos, including a public comment period on a draft of the Part 2 risk evaluation. US EPA is required by court order to publish Part 2 of the final risk evaluation for asbestos by December 1, 2024.

Gradient has been tracking the evolving science, state of knowledge, and regulatory decisions regarding asbestos for decades. If you have questions related to asbestos, please visit our website or contact:

Lisa Bailey, Ph.D.
Principal Scientist

David Dodge, M.S., DABT, CIH
Principal Scientist

Michael K. Peterson, M.E.M., DABT

Robyn Prueitt, Ph.D., DABT
Principal Scientist

Topics:  Asbestos, Chrysotile Asbestos, TSCA, Chemical Safety Review