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EPA announces policy changes asbestos and hazardous materials

The Environmental Protection Agency Office of Pollution Prevention and Toxics recently announced a Significant New Use Rule (SNUR) change in policies regarding asbestos. A mineral once widely used in building materials because of its flame-retardant properties, it has since been deemed a dangerous carcinogen.

The EPA says it plans to first evaluate new uses for the mineral using risk evaluation, select studies and the best available science. An area of concern is the EPA's approach based on a document titled "Problem Formulation of the Risk Evaluation for Asbestos." Critics point out that this approach does not consider "legacy" uses of asbestos and other current information about the health risks. Therefore, the revised SNUR will severely limit the scope of measuring the danger to using the mineral as well as several other similarly dangerous chemicals, materials and minerals.

Senator Udall's law undermined

Many remember Senator Tom Udall's bipartisan leadership to reform the Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA) while Obama was in office. The original idea was to reevaluate substances to see if they safe and to generally reform the chemical safety laws. Instead of eliminating the use or providing further safety guidelines, the EPA under the current administration has taken the opposite approach of being open to new uses under the SNUR.

Protecting your best interests

As of now, all currently banned uses for asbestos remain in effect. However, there are still potential issues with improper disposal of asbestos (which can pollute drinking water among others things) as well as other illegal exposure that can lead to severe health problems.

If exposure to asbestos or other harmful materials have injured you or a loved one, it is a wise course of action to contact a lawyer experienced in personal injury cases. Injuries can be severe and life-threatening, leading to many emotional and financial hardships for individuals and their families.

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