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 BoxerHillicon Valley: Ocasio-Cortez clashes with former Dem senator over gig worker bill | Software engineer indicted over Capital One breach | Lawmakers push Amazon to remove unsafe products Ocasio-Cortez blasts former Dem senator for helping Lyft fight gig worker bill Only four Dem senators have endorsed 2020 candidates 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) McCarthyIt's time for Congress to address the 'forever chemical' crisis Overnight Energy: Critics accuse Interior's top lawyer of misleading Congress | Boaty McBoatface makes key climate change discovery | Outrage over Trump's order to trim science advisory panels Trump's order to trim science advisory panels sparks outrage 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.”