Attorney General Frey Joins Multistate Coalition Calling on EPA to Issue a New Rule Eliminating Exemptions for Asbestos Reporting

January 31, 2019

AUGUSTA - Maine Attorney General Aaron Frey today joined a coalition of 15 attorneys general to call on the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency Acting Administrator Andrew Wheeler to initiate rulemaking to issue a new "asbestos reporting rule" to eliminate exemptions for asbestos in the current Chemical Data Reporting rule. Asbestos is a highly hazardous chemical in widespread use throughout the U.S. The coalition argues that without requiring adequate reporting, the EPA will be unable to comply with its mandate under the Toxic Substances Control Act (known as TSCA) to prevent unreasonable risks to health and the environment presented by asbestos.

"The evidence is clear that asbestos is a deadly substance, and the Toxic Substances Control Act is an important tool for protecting people from the risks posed by similar substances," said Attorney General Frey. "This rule would allow the EPA to comply with the Act by giving them the information they need to properly regulate asbestos. In doing so, lives can be saved."

Asbestos - a carcinogen that takes 15,000 lives per year - is linked to diseases that are life threatening, or cause substantial pain and suffering, including mesothelioma, fibrosis, lung cancer, gastrointestinal cancer, as well as other lung disorders and diseases. There is no safe level of exposure to this highly toxic material. Currently, the EPA does not possess, and is not collecting, the necessary comprehensive data of the importing, processing and use of asbestos and asbestos-containing articles in the U.S. The attorneys general point out that robust reporting of the distribution and use of asbestos and asbestos-containing articles is necessary to provide EPA with the data it needs to fulfill its obligations under TSCA to evaluate the risks posed by toxic chemicals like asbestos and to address those risks through regulation.

Specifically, the attorneys general petition the Acting Administrator to initiate rulemaking and issue a new asbestos reporting rule to:

  • Eliminate "naturally occurring substance" as an exemption for asbestos reporting;

  • Require processors of asbestos, as well as manufacturers, including importers, of the chemical substance to adhere to reporting requirements;

  • Ensure that the impurities exemption in the Chemical Data Reporting rule does not apply to asbestos; and

  • Require reporting with respect to imported articles that contain asbestos.

Attorney General Frey joins the coalition led by California Attorney General Xavier Becerra and Massachusetts Attorney General Maura Healey, and includes attorneys general from Connecticut, Hawaii, Maryland, Minnesota, New Jersey, New York, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Vermont, Washington, as well as the District of Columbia.