Due to the lack of importation regulations asbestos is still being used today. Its why you can’t exclude a building for the presence of asbestos based on its date of construction. Congresswoman Bonamici is introducing a bill to ban asbestos in the United States. For full article text, click here.
After initial reports of asbestos contamination in makeup product sold at Claire’s stores, the company moved quickly to have testing performed by independent laboratories. The resulting reports indicate no evidence of asbestos contamination in their products, allaying mesothelioma concerns for users of the makeup across the country.
A Johnson & Johnson internal memo reveals that executives considered a 1% level of asbestos in their baby powder was acceptable because it was well below the level allowed for an asbestos miner at the time. This conflicts with their assertion that J&J baby powder never contained asbestos. The exposure of the memo has opened J&J up to a new round of law suits.
LAKE CHARLES, LA (KPLC) –
Out of sight, out of mind, right? Well, that’s not the case for a major insurance provider that is now dropping clients because of a policy change regarding asbestos. A homeowner came to 7news with a letter stating their Allstate homeowner’s insurance policy is being canceled.
The siding of the home is made of asbestos, a popular insulation material used before it was outlawed in 1980 because exposure can be dangerous, often leading to lung cancer and mesothelioma. President of Lyons Insurance, Stephen Lyons, says about 20% of homes in the area have asbestos due to older construction. “Whether it be the siding, the roofing, the floor even the commercial spaces, some still have asbestos,” said Lyons. He says there are a lot of factors to determine the risk of an older home, but asbestos is one that is harder to assume for some major providers.
“Removal or remediation of asbestos is very expensive,” said Lyons. “There can also be lawsuits from the contamination or the physical damage of the removal of asbestos.” It’s not just Allstate. Lyons says many carriers are being selective in this area and it may be because we can be exposed to asbestos easier. “Number one there’s the wind risk factor, number two there’s the water risk factor,” said Lyons.
So, insurance companies may be more willing to write up policies for newer homes rather than take a bigger risk on an older one. Lyons says there are a few options for homeowners with asbestos. You can either get rid of it, or find a policy and provider that will assume the higher risk. We reached out to Allstate and are awaiting a response.
November 15, 2017
Eight Senate Democrats have introduced a bill seeking to ban asbestos — even as EPA is working on a precedential risk evaluation of the substance under new responsibilities in the reformed Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA) — in part because of concerns that President Donald Trump’s nominee to lead the agency’s toxics office wouldn’t ban its use. “The main context is the [Michael] Dourson nomination” to be the assistant administrator of EPA’s Office of Chemical Safety and Pollution Prevention, “the way that’s impacting our view of the situation,” a Democratic Senate staffer tells Inside EPA. “When we passed the bipartisan [TSCA reform] bill last year, there was the feeling that any potential EPA official working in good faith would ban asbestos as part of the first 10 high priority cases” that EPA elected for risk evaluation as directed in the reformed statute.
As expected, EPA shortly before the end of the Obama administration selected asbestos among the first 10 existing chemicals — those on the market when the original TSCA took effect in 1976 and largely grandfathered under the original law — to be prioritized for risk evaluation and potentially regulation. EPA has a statutory deadline of three years to complete evaluations of the 10 chemicals, after which any uses of the chemicals deemed not to meet TSCA’s unreasonable risk standard must be regulated. “But there’s really a high degree of alarm about Dourson,” the staffer says. “And in a wide variety of instances he may recommend controls on chemicals that are much weaker than we would like to see and those could get locked in for a long period of time.”
As a result, Democrats recently introduced their legislation to require EPA to ban asbestos in case Dourson opts against pursuing any prohibition on the substance. Democrats, environmentalists and some public health advocates have stridently opposed Dourson’s nomination, arguing the former EPA toxicologist’s non-profit risk assessment consulting group is too close with myriad chemical industry clients. They have pointed to numerous chemicals where Dourson proposed risk standards that are weaker than those EPA or state agencies ultimately adopted. Senate Democrats on the Environment and Public Works Committee vowed to oppose Dourson’s confirmation, even as the committee voted along party lines to advance his nomination to the floor.
Dourson’s nomination seems to have stalled, however. Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) moved a Nov. 9 party-line confirmation vote of another controversial EPA appointment, that of William Wehrum to lead the air office. But McConnell did not advance Dourson’s nomination, signaling that there may by dissension in the Republican ranks. With the GOP holding a slim three-vote majority, Republicans cannot lose more than two votes if Democrats vote as a block. The two Republican senators from North Carolina have recently told reporters that they have concerns about Dourson, linked to his past work on perfluorinated chemicals — which are currently contaminating North Carolina’s Cape Fear near a Fayetteville facility — and his past work on trichloroethylene, a solvent that contaminated the drinking water supply at Camp Lejeune, NC.
“I think the real question is if McConnell is willing to burn floor time on [Dourson]. But he did today with Wehrum,” the staffer says. “If they actually have a tax thing to move, that’s going to take up a lot of their floor time. But if they get stalled on that they may move to nominees.”
Eight Democrats, led by Sen. Jeff Merkley (D-OR), introduced S. 2072 Nov. 2. The bill reintroduces legislation proposed in the last Congress by former California Sen. Barbara Boxer (D), as she was negotiating reform of TSCA with Republicans and more moderate Democrats. Merkley is joined by cosponsoring Sens. Cory Booker (NJ), Richard Durbin (IL), Dianne Feinstein (CA), Edward Markey (MA), Bernie Sanders (I-VT), Jon Tester (MT) and Sheldon Whitehouse (RI).
If signed into law, the bill would require EPA within 18 months of enactment to “impose, by rule, prohibitions, restrictions, and other conditions, including prohibitions on the manufacture, processing, use, distribution in commerce, and disposal of asbestos and mixtures and articles containing asbestos, that the Administrator determines to be necessary to eliminate human or environmental exposure to asbestos.”
The bill seeks to amend TSCA Title VII and revise TSCA’s definition of asbestos, which generally refers to various types of mineral fibers that are harmful to the lungs. TSCA strictly defines “asbestos” as consisting of six fiber types, but the bill would expand the definition to include “all forms of asbestos.”
EPA, however, is restricting its ongoing risk evaluation to the existing TSCA definition of those six fiber types. This application of the narrow definition of asbestos and other changes further restricting the ongoing risk evaluation is another driver for the introduction of the new asbestos bill, says Linda Reinstein, CEO and co-founder of the Asbestos Disease Awareness Organization. The new bill and its predecessor are named for Reinstein’s husband Alan, who died of asbestos-related mesothelioma. Reinstein pointed to changes the Trump EPA made to the final rules implementing TSCA reform, and in particular changes to how conditions of use will be evaluated in TSCA risk evaluations as a major concern — particularly as applied in the scoping document that EPA released describing how it plans to evaluate asbestos
“The conditions of use being changed in the scoping document was for me alarming and deeply concerning,” Reinstein told Inside EPA in a Nov. 9 interview. “To change the conditions of use, to exclude legacy uses and [some types of asbestos, such as] Libby amphibole — by altering the conditions of use to strongly favor the chlor alkali industry equals no ban.”
Reinstein remains concerned that the chlor alkali industry, the major remaining ongoing use of asbestos, will successfully lobby EPA to exempt the industry from any ban that EPA might propose for asbestos upon completion of the risk evaluation. Reinstein notes that the chlor alkali industry successfully lobbied for an exemption when EPA last proposed banning many uses of asbestos in 1989, and that the industry has made similar arguments in comments to EPA on its ongoing risk evaluation. Reinstein said that after reviewing the asbestos evaluation scoping document that the Trump EPA released last June, “it was abundantly clear to me that we would never have a ban if we relied on the existing EPA to evaluate the risk.” — Maria Hegstad
Dangerous chemicals in houses and business could be left in place by a review under the Trump administration. A US government review of dangerous chemicals will be reduced in scope leaving potentially millions of tons of toxins in homes and businesses. The review by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) will cover potentially deadly chemicals including asbestos and carbon tetrachloride, many of which are known or thought to cause cancer. Instead of covering the chemicals and materials already in insulation materials, roofing and other uses that might expose people to toxins, the review will be limited to new products being manufactured, sold or imported.
Phys.org reports that the review, which began under the previous administration, has been scaled back by President Donald Trump’s administration under pressure from the chemical industry. The EPA has been on the front line of the Trump administration’s tough stance on regulation and the environment, blocking scientists from discussing climate change and subjecting scientific findings to vetting by political staff.
Asbestos is banned in many countries including the UK, where it was banned in 1999, but remains in many homes and buildings. An attempt to ban asbestos in the US failed in 1991, and it is still not technically banned despite causing the disease mesothelioma.
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WASHINGTON – The Asbestos Disease Awareness Organization, the largest independent nonprofit asbestos victims’ advocacy group in the United States – along with the Environmental Working Group, a consumer advocacy group that empowers people to live healthier lives in a healthier environment – released a statement in response to new data showing asbestos imports nearly doubled in 2016, after years of decline.
Data from the Department of Commerce and the U.S. International Trade Commission estimates that 705 metric tons of raw asbestos were imported last year, compared to 343 metric tons in 2015. The U.S. Geological Survey reported asbestos imports came from Brazil and Russia. The only remaining user of raw asbestos in the U.S. is the chloralkali industry, which uses it to “manufacture semipermeable asbestos diaphragms.”
Much of the surge in imports in 2016 came in the fourth quarter of the year, following the passage of the revamped Toxic Substances Control Act, or TSCA. Lobbyists from the American Chemistry Council, on behalf of the chloralkali industry, are now pushing for an exemption from the new chemical safety law that would allow it to continue to import and use asbestos just as it does today.
The EPA is currently in the process of implementing TSCA, an overhaul that gives the agency broader authority to ban toxic chemicals, and under which asbestos is being evaluated for regulation.
“Opponents of an asbestos ban have long argued that asbestos use is shrinking in the United States, but now we know just the opposite is true,” said Linda Reinstein, president and co-founder of the Asbestos Disease Awareness Organization. “Each year, asbestos-caused diseases claim the lives of 15,000 Americans. It is shocking that unlike more than 60 nations around the world, the U.S. has not only failed to ban asbestos, but its use is increasing dramatically. The EPA needs to ban asbestos with no exceptions. There is no safe or controlled use of asbestos in mining or manufacturing.”
“The chloralkali industry’s insistence on the continued use of deadly asbestos is reprehensible,” said EWG President Ken Cook. “Meanwhile, we shut our eyes to the communities in Brazil and other asbestos-producing nations, where miners and their families are exposed to this killer.”
“It is incredulous that, in the face of such harrowing facts, the chloralkali industry continues to peddle their ‘safe use’ propaganda to the EPA, the public, and their shareholders,” said Dr. Richard Lemen, former assistant U.S. surgeon general and current co-chair of the Asbestos Disease Awareness Organization’s science advisory board. “If the EPA does not put a stop to this environmental and public health disaster now with a complete asbestos ban, more innocent Americans will die preventable deaths due to bureaucratic inaction.”
Update: President Barack Obama signed the Frank R. Lautenberg Chemical Safety for the 21st Century Act into law on June 22, 2016.
President Barack Obama signed legislation on June 22 that will overhaul how the U.S. government regulates toxic chemicals, possibly moving the United States a step closer to banning asbestos. Earlier this month, Congress passed the Frank R. Lautenberg Chemical Safety for the 21st Century Act, which amends the Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA) of 1979. The bill will give the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) greater power to better review chemicals for safety and restrict their use. One of the reasons asbestos is not banned in the U.S. is because the current law requires the EPA to find the “least burdensome” way for the industry to control asbestos — an unsurmountable task for the regulatory agency given its current restrictions. The new law eliminates that provision.
“The EPA must limit delay by including asbestos in the list of the first chemicals it evaluates and quickly exercising its authority under this legislation to ban asbestos,” Reinstein said. “Until a complete ban is in place, asbestos will be found in construction materials, automobile parts, and even children’s toys.” While the White House and top Democrats supported the bill, other high-ranking Democrats felt the bipartisan text may limit states that already act more progressively against toxic substances. California, Massachusetts, New Jersey and Vermont already regulate chemicals aggressively. House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., House Democratic Whip Steny Hoyer of Maryland and U.S. Rep. Frank Pallone of New Jersey, the senior Democrat on the House Energy and Commerce Committee, all fought for the bill to include language enabling states to maintain their current chemical legislation if it’s more stringent than the new federal guidelines. The legislation includes a proposal grandfathering state laws in place before April 22 to trump federal law. Meanwhile, development of new state regulations would be allowed in tandem with development of federal rules. States with limited chemical regulation would follow the new federal standard. Pelosi, Hoyer and Pallone issued a statement saying the measure “is not the bill Democrats would have written on our own, but it is a long overdue step forward to protect families and communities from toxic substances.” The White House issued a similar sentiment: “The bill is a clear improvement over the current TSCA and represents a historic advancement for both chemical safety and environmental law.”
On the day the Senate approved the bill, Environmental Defense Fund lead senior scientist Richard Denison said “today’s vote is a historic victory for public health.” While Denison admits the legislation misses the mark in some ways, he says “it fixes the biggest problems with our current law by requiring safety reviews for chemicals in use today, mandating greater scrutiny of new chemicals before they can be sold, and removing barriers that prevented the EPA from banning asbestos and other harmful chemicals.” For the ADAO, the legislation opens the way for immediate action. “We can’t afford to wait another year, another month, another day,” Reinstein said.
Washington, DC – The US EPA has agreed to update its Asbestos National Emission Standards for Hazardous Air Pollutants (NESHAP) in response to a recommendation by its Office of Inspector General (OIG).
Since 1973, under the NESHAP Regulation, the EPA has allowed buildings that are structurally unsound and in imminent danger of collapse to be demolished, without first removing regulated asbestos-containing materials, the OIG said in a report.
The agency’s alternative asbestos control method experiments show that this can result in the release of significant amounts of asbestos into runoff wastewater. The experiments also demonstrate that the amount of released asbestos “often exceeds the legally reportable quantity” of one pound in a 24-hour period, the OIG said, and recommended that the EPA should update its guidance to address such potentially harmful releases and assess the potential public health risk posed by them.
In response, the agency agreed that its guidance in the area was “dated and disparate” and said it would put together a team of asbestos experts to advise it in producing an “updated consolidated guidance document, which has practical application to the regulated community.”
The exposure of workers to asbestos has led to proposed fines totaling $81,000 for one employer. Commercial roofer Douglass Colony Group Inc. was cited for four repeat and seven serious violations by the U.S. Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration for failing to protect workers from exposure to asbestos at a Denver work site. “Asbestos is a dangerous material that can potentially cause lifelong, irreversible health problems if proper procedures are not followed,” said Herb Gibson, OSHA’s area director in Denver. “OSHA’s asbestos standard has a specific work practice covering roofing operations that the employer failed to follow, exposing workers to needless health hazards.” Three of the four repeat violations, with a $45,000 penalty, were cited for failure to provide a competent supervisor to oversee the removal of asbestos-containing material, conduct an asbestos exposure assessment and provide adequate training for workers performing asbestos removal duties.
The fourth repeat violation, with a $15,000 penalty, was cited for failure to remove asbestos-containing material properly to minimize potential release of airborne asbestos; use mist-cutting machines appropriately; and use ventilation for dust collection and proper containment and transfer of asbestos-containing material. A repeat violation exists when an employer previously has been cited for the same or a similar violation of a standard, regulation, rule or order at any other facility in federal enforcement states within the last five years. Similar violations were previously cited in June 2013.
Seven serious violations, with a penalty of $21,000, were cited for failing to conduct asbestos removal work within a regulated area; conduct daily air monitoring to determine employee exposure; provide protective respiratory equipment and clothing; identify and inform workers and others of the presence, quantity and location of asbestos-containing material; and label waste containers holding asbestos products. A serious violation occurs when there is substantial probability that death or serious physical harm could result from a hazard about which the employer knew or should have known.
While this employer provided the proper fall protection and the focus of this inspection was asbestos exposure, OSHA advises all contractors in the Colorado roofing industry of the agency’s Fall Prevention Campaign to stop falls in construction. Douglass Colony Group, headquartered in Commerce City, was given 15 business days from receipt of its citations and proposed penalties to comply, request a conference with OSHA’s area director, or contest the findings before the independent Occupational Safety and Health Review Commission.