Apr 5, 2022 - Politics & Policy

EPA proposes "historic" plan to ban cancer-causing asbestos

Picture of a "danger" sign for asbestos

Photo: Lindsey Nicholson/UCG/Universal Images Group via Getty Images

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency on Tuesday proposed to ban chrysotile asbestos, a known deadly carcinogen.

The big picture: Asbestos exposure is linked to nearly 40,000 deaths in the U.S. every year and 255,000 worldwide, according to the American Public Health Association.

  • Asbestos has been banned in at least 70 countries around the world.
  • "Asbestos causes mesothelioma and cancer of the lung, larynx, and ovary, in addition to pleural diseases such as asbestosis; it is also strongly associated with cancer of the pharynx, stomach cancer, and colorectal cancer," the APHA writes.

State of play: That specific type, also known as "white asbestos," is the only known form of asbestos imported into the U.S., the EPA said.

  • It's used in roofing materials and can also be found in sheet gaskets, brake blocks and aftermarket automotive brakes and linings, per the EPA.

Details: The EPA's proposed ban would prohibit all manufacturing, processing, importation and commercial distribution of products containing white asbestos.

What they're saying: “Today, we’re taking an important step forward to protect public health and finally put an end to the use of dangerous asbestos in the United States,” said EPA Administrator Michael Regan.

  • “This historic proposed ban would protect the American people from exposure to chrysotile asbestos, a known carcinogen, and demonstrates significant progress in our work to implement the TSCA law and take bold, long-overdue actions to protect those most vulnerable among us.”
Go deeper