EPA bans last forms of asbestos

While asbestos use has drastically declined in the last several decades, the remaining uses will be phased out.

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has announced a comprehensive ban on the last forms of asbestos. 

Asbestos is a carcinogen that is responsible for killing over 40,000 Americans every year. 


Why it matters: Asbestos, which was widely used in construction before the 1980s, is still used in products such as brake locks, sheet gaskets and aftermarket automotive brakes. 

  • The carcinogen has been known to cause lung cancer, mesothelioma, ovarian cancer and laryngeal cancer. 

State of play: Currently the only form of asbestos known to be imported, processed or distributed in the United States is chrysotile. 

  • Monday’s announcement – banning chrysotile asbestos – marks a major expansion of EPA regulation under a landmark 2016 law that overhauled regulations governing tens of thousands of toxic chemicals in everyday products, from household cleaners to clothing and furniture.

What we’re watching: Most sheet gaskets that contain asbestos will be banned within two years, and there will be five-year phase-outs for sheet gaskets to be used to produce titanium dioxide for the processing of nuclear material. 

  • The ruling also bans the use of asbestos in oilfield brake blocks, aftermarket automotive brakes and linings, other vehicle friction products and other gaskets within six months. 

What they’re saying: “The science is clear – asbestos is a known carcinogen that has severe impacts on public health,” said EPA Administrator Michael S. Regan. “President Biden understands that this concern that has spanned generations and impacted the lives of countless people. That’s why EPA is so proud to finalize this long-needed ban on ongoing uses of asbestos.” 

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