Attorney General Shapiro Calls on EPA to Issue New Rule Eliminating Exemptions for Asbestos Reporting

Attorney General Josh Shapiro, with a coalition of 15 attorneys general, called on the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency Acting Administrator Andrew Wheeler to initiate rulemaking in order to issue a new “asbestos reporting rule” which would eliminate exemptions for asbestos in the current Chemical Data Reporting rule. Asbestos is a highly hazardous chemical currently in widespread use throughout the U.S. The coalition argues that without requiring adequate reporting, the EPA will be unable to comply with its mandate under the Toxic Substances Control Act (known as TSCA) to prevent unreasonable risks to health and the environment presented by asbestos.

Asbestos – a carcinogen that claims roughly 15,000 lives per year – is linked to diseases that are life-threatening, or cause substantial pain and suffering, including mesothelioma, fibrosis, lung cancer, gastrointestinal cancer, as well as other lung disorders and diseases.  There is no safe level of exposure to this highly toxic material.  Currently, the EPA does not possess – and is not collecting – the necessary comprehensive data of the importing, processing, and use of asbestos and asbestos-containing articles in the U.S. In their petition, the attorneys general point out that robust reporting of the distribution and use of asbestos and asbestos-containing articles is necessary to provide EPA with the data it needs to fulfill its obligations under TSCA to evaluate the risks posed by toxic chemicals like asbestos and to address those risks through regulation.

“The EPA acknowledges that asbestos is one of the most dangerous chemicals in existence, and therefore, one which they have a duty to monitor and regulate,” said Attorney General Shapiro.  “Time and time again, the EPA under the Trump Administration has tried to reverse course on standards that protect Americans and our environment.  Over the last twenty years, Pennsylvania has had the third highest death rate from asbestos-related diseases in the nation after Florida and California.  I’m fighting to protect Pennsylvanians’ health, and to ensure that the EPA does its job.”

Specifically, the attorneys general petition the Acting Administrator to initiate rulemaking and issue a new asbestos reporting rule to:

  • Eliminate “naturally occurring substance” as an exemption for asbestos reporting;
  • Require processors of asbestos, as well as manufacturers, including importers, of the chemical substance to adhere to reporting requirements;
  • Ensure that the impurities exemption in the Chemical Data Reporting rule does not apply to asbestos; and
  • Require reporting with respect to imported articles that contain asbestos.

Attorney General Shapiro joins the coalition led by California and Massachusetts and includes attorneys general from Connecticut, the District of Columbia, Hawai’i, Maryland, Maine, Minnesota, New Jersey, New York, Oregon, Rhode Island, Vermont, and Washington.