NYT: Memos Advising Asbestos Ban Disregarded by E.P.A. Leaders
(Jim Wlson, The New York Times)

Internal memos from Environmental Protection Agency scientists and lawyers recommending an outright ban of asbestos in the United States were disregarded by E.P.A. senior officials, The New York Times reports. A rule instituted in April restricting use of the known carcinogen keeps open a way for U.S. manufactures to employ new uses for it or a return to older uses with E.P.A. approval.

The restrictions rule adopted in April was presented as a way to strengthen public health restrictions against asbestos, but the E.P.A.’s own experts urged a complete ban of the material in memos dated August 10.

“Rather than allow for (even with restrictions) any new uses for asbestos, E.P.A. should seek to ban all new uses of asbestos because the extreme harm from this chemical substance outweighs any benefit, and because there are adequate alternatives to asbestos,” staff members wrote in the memos.

Asbestos is a naturally-occurring fibrous mineral that had been used for centuries as one of the most effective fire-retardant and water-resistant materials ever discovered. The incredibly versatile mineral was also found to be responsible for causing mesothelioma and other deadly cancers years after being inhaled.

Production of asbestos in the United States was halted in 2002, but it is still imported to produce chemicals used in manufacturing items like household bleach, bulletproof vests, and electrical insulation. While severe restrictions have been put on the use of asbestos in the United States, the U.S. remains one of the few industrialized countries without an outright ban of the deadly material.

“Regulated industries contact E.P.A. when they have been surprised to find out that their buildings and other facilities were constructed with asbestos, when they had been assuming asbestos had been banned a long time before. If asbestos was banned, then these surprises would not continue to take place,” the staff members wrote in the memos.

FULL STORY: https://nyti.ms/2LxwwKT

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Sources: 
https://www.nytimes.com/2019/05/08/climate/epa-asbestos-rule-scientists.html
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