On April 17, 2019, the Environmental Protection Agency, the American agency responsible for the control of toxic substances (TSCA) announced, by means of a press release, that it had opted for a new regulation on, namely, the use of many asbestos-cement products. It was a first in 30 years. After reviewing the existing records of many chemical substances, including asbestos, the Agency made its observations known following a rigorous and extensive process which included a thorough review of the most recent scientific findings.
It is important to note that in that country, as in other user countries, the product subjected to the review was chrysotile asbestos, which is far less detrimental to human health than other type of fibres, such as amphiboles.
Controlled use has proven its worth
On solid scientific foundations and after having seriously analyzed its relevance, the Agency expressed a formal opinion to the effect that both the use and the trade of an important number of products which contain chrysotile should not be banned.
Banishment if necessary but not necessarily banishment
The US Environmental Protection Agency issued the regulation and will be following on this decision.
Furthermore, the report clearly states that as for the chryso-cement products currently being used in that country, the contemporary work methods and modern technologies render unnecessary any further health-related risk evaluation and do not require the development of new regulations.
As per the products which aren’t currently on the market, if need be, prior request will have to be submitted to the Agency to get permission for their use.
This confirms that the safe and responsible use of chrysotile is not a pipe dream but rather a reality that extremist crusaders who call for a world-wide ban refuse to recognize. It’s clear that numerous huge interests are at stake, which motivate those trying by all means to ignore science.
In itself, the silence of some international organizations in the wake of this important announcement on the use of fibre-cement products in the United States and the true risk for human health and the protection of the environment speaks volumes.
By the way, one should bear in mind the judicial decision rendered in 1991 in the United States. On July 12, 1989, the EPA issued a final rule banning most asbestos-containing products. In 1991, this regulation was overturned by the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals in New Orleans. As a result of the Court’s decision, the 1989 asbestos regulation only bans new uses of asbestos in products that would be initiated for the first time after 1989 and bans the following specific asbestos-containing products: flooring felt, rollboard, and corrugated, commercial, or specialty paper.