Make Asbestos a Top Priority Under New Chemical Reform Law, Advocate Says

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The Environmental Protection Agency must make asbestos one of the first 10 chemicals it evaluates under the newly amended Toxic Substances Control Act, says the Asbestos Disease Awareness Organization (ADAO) co-founder.

“The success of the Frank R. Lautenberg Chemical Safety Act hinges on the EPA’s ability to prioritize asbestos in the first 10 hazardous chemicals and to expeditiously ban asbestos,” Linda Reinstein, ADAO co-founder and president, told Bloomberg BNA.

President Obama signed the Lautenberg Act, which amended TSCA for the first time since 1976, into law June 22.

Throughout the years that led up to TSCA reform, legislators referred to a 1991 court ruling that overturned the EPA’s asbestos ban as the best example of why the 40-year-old law had to be revamped.

In remarks prior to signing the law, Obama said: “The law placed demands on the EPA that were so tough, so onerous that it became virtually impossible to actually see if those chemicals were harming anybody.”

“The system was so complex, it was so burdensome, that our country hasn't even been able to uphold a ban on asbestos—a known carcinogen that kills as many as 10,000 Americans every year. I think a lot of Americans would be shocked by all that,” he said.

The law has been amended, Reinstein said. “The time is now to end the asbestos man-made disaster.”

Reinstein isn’t the only advocate who’ll be watchdogging the implementation of the new law.

David Goldston, director of government affairs for the Natural Resources Defense Council, told Bloomberg BNA the council will participate in the many implementation requirements of the law.

NRDC is prepared to challenge, legally if necessary, decisions the agency makes and delayed deadlines, he said.