EPA has already exceeded the statutory deadline for finalizing the risk evaluation for asbestos, and is now in the 6 month extension period allowed by the law. The clock runs out entirely in June 2020, which is likely why EPA has issued this long-awaited risk evaluation, even when there have been calls to wait until the coronavirus pandemic has ended. This is the ninth of the first 10 chemical compounds evaluated by EPA under the revisions to TSCA as a part of the Frank R. Lautenberg Chemical Safety for the 21st Century Act.
EPA is moving ahead with a planned scientific review of its just-released draft evaluation of asbestos, which found the substance poses an unreasonable risk to workers, consumers and others. EPA finds that asbestos poses and “unreasonable” cancer risks via inhalation exposure to workers in several industry sectors, occupational non-users, consumers or bystanders from consumer use.
Completely missing from this draft risk assessment is any response to the recent court decision in Safer Chemicals Healthy Families v. EPA, Nos. 17-72260 et al. (9th Cir. 2019), which requires the EPA to consider legacy exposures to asbestos-containing materials that currently exist in the nation’s buildings, facilities and homes. EPA states that it ” intends to consider legacy uses and associated disposal in a supplemental scope document and supplemental risk evaluation.”
EPA did not find risk to the environment. For all the conditions of use included in the draft risk evaluation, EPA has preliminarily found no unreasonable risks to the environment under any of the conditions of use.
Upon publication of the Federal Register notice, the draft risk evaluation will be available for public comment for 60 days in docket EPA-HQ-OPPT-2019-0501. Please submit comments on the draft risk evaluation by April 22, 2020 to allow the SACC time to review and consider them before the peer review meeting. Comments received after April 22, 2020 and prior to the end of the oral public comment period during the meeting will still be provided to the SACC for their consideration. Anyone submitting written comments after April 22, 2020 should provide an electronic copy to the DFO listed below. EPA will continue to accept comments on the draft risk evaluation until the end of the 60 day public comment period. The agency will consider all comments received on the draft risk evaluation by the end of the public comment period when developing the final risk evaluation. When preparing and submitting your comments, see the commenting tips at https://www.epa.gov/
EPA will hold a preparatory virtual meeting on April 7, 2020 for the panel and public to comment on the clarity and scope of the draft charge questions for the April meeting. Register to attend the virtual preparatory meeting.
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