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Asbestos Returning Under Trump’s EPA?


By Dan Hounsell IAQ
Asbestos warning posted on fence

Everything old might be new again, but while some old things bring benefits and good memories with them, that’s not the case for all old things. Take asbestos, for example.

A dangerous carcinogen outlawed in more than 55 countries, asbestos could make a comeback in the United States, under President Trump’s U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), according to Fast Company. The EPA has even made it easier for companies to introduce new uses of asbestos-containing products in America, many of which could end up in common products in institutional and commercial buildings, as well as the materials used to build them.

On June 1, the EPA enacted a Significant New Use Rule (SNUR) allowing the manufacture of new asbestos-containing products to be petitioned and approved by the federal government on a case-by-case basis. Under an amendment to the 1976 Toxic Substances Control Act that passed in 2016, asbestos also remains one of ten prioritized substances currently being evaluated by the EPA.

That might sound like Trump’s EPA is diligently regulating asbestos, but the agency has significantly narrowed the way it evaluates the risk of potentially harmful chemical substances.

While products derived from asbestos might not hold a direct threat to consumers, the environmental advocacy group Healthy Building Network tells Fast Company the health risks are significant for workers in the building community, who are exposed to the fibrous material while renovating and constructing schools and office building.

This Quick Read was submitted by Dan Hounsell — dan.hounsell@tradepressmedia.com — editor-in-chief of Facility Maintenance Decisions and Facilitiesnet.com.

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