Chrysotile Asbestos
EPA Exercises Reformed TSCA to Initiate Asbestos Ban

On April 5, 2022, during Asbestos Awareness Week, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) proposed a new ban on asbestos. The proposal represents the first time EPA has exercised the regulatory framework established in 2016 under the Reformed Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA), which provides EPA with increased authority to ban or restrict chemicals used in commerce if they have been demonstrated to pose serious risk to human health or the environment.  

Some background on asbestos

Asbestos is a mineral, mined for centuries around the world for countless uses. Asbestos fibers are strong, heat resistant, chemical resistant, and absorb sound, making the material attractive for many applications, including construction products, heating equipment, and brakes.

Asbestos is also a known human carcinogen. When materials containing asbestos are disturbed, particles become airborne and can be inhaled, causing a host of health concerns including cancer. Working with asbestos is highly regulated by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) and various EPA/state administered asbestos-related rules and authorities; only licensed professionals should handle asbestos-containing material.

Wait, wasn’t asbestos banned a long time ago?

While mining for asbestos in the United States ended in 2002, asbestos-containing materials continue to be imported, processed, and distributed. Asbestos comes in six forms. In the United States, just one type of asbestos, chrysotile, is still in use today. Chrysotile, the centerpiece of EPA’s newly proposed ban, is used exclusively by the chlor-alkali industry in products such as gaskets and brake linings.

Asbestos emerged as a human health hazard in the first half of the 20th century. In a 1989 rule, EPA banned most asbestos-containing products. However, that legislature was overturned in 1991, resulting only in a ban concerning new uses and specific products (i.e., flooring felt, rollboard, and corrugated, commercial, or specialty paper). Since, several bills were introduced aiming to further restrict asbestos uses, but none of the bills were finalized. Fast forward to 2016 and the Frank R. Lautenberg Chemical Safety for the 21st Century Act passed (aka Reformed TSCA), providing EPA the authority to ban asbestos, among other chemicals identified for priority action.

In December 2020, under the Reformed TSCA, EPA released the results of its Part 1 Asbestos Final Risk Evaluation, which demonstrated unreasonable risks to human health arising from chrysotile asbestos uses under the consumers/bystanders and workers/occupational non-users exposure scenarios. Releasing the final risk evaluation was the last step in the scientific evaluation process established under the Reformed TSCA, allowing EPA to move forward with proposing regulations to address unreasonable risks.  

Got it. Tell me more about the newly proposed rule.

The full pre-publication notice, Asbestos Part 1: Chrysotile Asbestos; Regulation of Certain Conditions of Use under Section 6(a) of the Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA), can be read here.

In summary, the EPA proposes to ban manufacturing (including importing), processing, distribution in commerce, and commercial use of chrysotile asbestos for six product categories:



Asbestos diaphragms

2 years after rule enactment

Sheet gaskets

2 years after rule enactment

Oilfield brake blocks

180 days after rule enactment

Aftermarket automotive brakes and linings

180 days after rule enactment

Other vehicle friction products

180 days after rule enactment

Other gaskets

180 days after rule enactment

EPA has also introduced recordkeeping and disposal requirements related to these products as part of the proposed rule. Under the proposed rule, regulated entities may be required to maintain five-year records of chrysotile disposal and exposure controls/monitoring. The final rule language will provide additional details.

What’s next?

Once published in the Federal Register, the proposed rule will be open to public comment for 60 days.

Under TSCA requirements, EPA must finalize actions associated with a final risk evaluation within two years of release; the current administration indicates a final rule regarding the asbestos ban may be available by November 2022.

Any other asbestos-related activity underway?

Yes, in Part 2 of EPA’s asbestos risk evaluation, the agency is evaluating legacy asbestos uses and asbestos disposal practices (e.g. asbestos-containing material in old buildings). EPA released its draft scope for this component in December 2021 and plans to publish the final evaluation in December 2024.

What does this mean for industry?

While the latest news on asbestos importation, processing, and distribution applies only to a small number of facilities, EPA’s use of the Reformed TSCA has broad regulatory compliance implications for any industry handling chemicals.

Questions? Connect with us!

Trihydro remains up-to-date with TSCA requirements and routinely assists clients in understanding and complying with its processes. If you have TSCA-related questions, drop us a note!

We also have licensed asbestos abatement professionals on staff who work diligently to remove asbestos safely and thoroughly from numerous types of sites. If you have asbestos-containing material concerns at your site, contact us. 

Contact Us

Andrew Pawlisz, DABT
Andrew Pawlisz, DABT
Senior Toxicologist, Tulsa, OK

Andrew is a board-certified toxicologist with over 20 years of experience in risk assessment and evaluation; hazard assessment; and regulatory compliance, including the legacy and reformed Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA). Andrew specializes in finding practical solutions to regulatory and human health/environmental issues related to toxicants.

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