EPA to consider banning asbestos, other chemicals

EPA to consider banning asbestos, other chemicals
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The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has prioritized 10 chemicals, including asbestos, that could be banned under a new chemical safety law.

The EPA released the list of chemicals Tuesday, the first set of substances that it is reviewing under the Frank R. Lautenberg Chemical Safety for the 21st Century Act, signed into law earlier this year.

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Along with asbestos, the list includes the solvent methylene chloride, dry cleaning substance tetrachloroethylene, solvent 1-Bromopropane and others.

The release kicks off a three-year period during which the EPA must study whether the chemicals present unreasonable risks to human health or the environment. That could lead to restrictions or bans on their use.

“Under the new law, we now have the power to require safety reviews of all chemicals in the marketplace” Jim Jones, the EPA’s assistant administrator for chemical safety, said in a statement. “We can ensure the public that we will deliver on the promise to better protect public health and the environment.”

Asbestos was a poster child in recent years for efforts to reform the Toxic Substances Control Act of 1976.

While the substance is widely known as a carcinogen, a federal court blocked the EPA from restricting its use in 1991.

Advocates framed that decision as evidence that the original law was ineffective and toothless. All in all, the EPA was only able to ban a small handful of chemicals under the 1976 act.

Supporters Tuesday welcomed the EPA’s progress in implementing the new law.

“The potentially dangerous chemicals on this list are long overdue for attention from EPA,” the Environmental Defense Fund said in a statement. “This action is a sign that the reformed law, passed with overwhelming bipartisan support, is on the right track.”