Dem senator pushes EPA on asbestos regulations

Dem senator pushes EPA on asbestos regulations
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A California Democrat is pushing the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to make asbestos one of the first chemicals it regulates under a tough new chemical safety law. 

In a letter to the EPA on Friday, Sen. Barbara BoxerBarbara Levy BoxerHispanic civil rights icon endorses Harris for president California AG Becerra included in Bloomberg 50 list Climate debate comes full circle MORE (D-Calif.) said the agency should make asbestos one of the 10 chemicals it will inspect and regulate first under the Toxic Substances Control Act, which became law the summer. That list of chemicals is due out by the end of the year. 

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The call comes after the EPA tried phasing out asbestos under a previous version of the law in 1989. That rule was shot down by federal courts at the time. 

“Now that the impediments in the original TSCA law are gone, completing the job started by EPA in 1989 would send a strong signal that the new law can be effective in addressing the most dangerous chemicals in commerce,” Boxer wrote in her letter to EPA Administrator Gina McCarthyRegina (Gina) McCarthyOvernight Energy: Senate Dems introduce Green New Deal alternative | Six Republicans named to House climate panel | Wheeler confirmed to lead EPA Overnight Energy: Joshua Tree National Park lost M in fees due to shutdown | Dem senator, AGs back case against oil giants | Trump officials secretly shipped plutonium to Nevada Overnight Energy: Ethics panel clears Grijalva over settlement with staffer | DC aims to run on 100 percent clean energy by 2032 | Judges skeptical of challenge to Obama smog rule MORE.

Exposure to asbestos, a chemical used in building materials, has been tied to cancer and other health problems. Production of the chemical has ended in the United States and its use has declined, but the United States still goes through about 400 tons of the material annually, according to the U.S. Geological Service. 

The EPA banned the use of spray-on asbestos for fireproofing and other uses in the 1970s, according to the Mesothelioma Center. But its 1989 rule banning the chemical was overturned by the Fifth Circuit Court of appeals in 1991. 

Boxer, though, said the new TSCA law should lead to an asbestos rule now.

“The U.S. now has the ability to be a global leader and join the many other nations that have acted to address the harms posed by asbestos,” she wrote. “EPA should seize this opportunity by including asbestos in the first 10 chemicals that it acts on under the new law.”