Advocates for veterans and others diagnosed with malignant mesothelioma or any asbestos-related disease have several long-term goals: they want to find a cure for the rare and fatal form of cancer; they want justice for those who have been affected by asbestos; and they want to ban the use of asbestos both here in the United States and around the world. This last goal seemed well on its way to fruition until the Trump administration came into power and upended anticipated actions under the newly passed Toxic Substances Control Act. Though it had been thought that the act would lead to a thorough investigation of asbestos leading to a national ban, the EPA elected not to pursue the investigation, and in response citizens’s groups including the Asbestos Disease Awareness Organization (ADAO) requested an amendment to the EPA’s Chemical Data Reporting rule, requesting greater disclosure of data and reporting on asbestos and asbestos-containing products. Now that the EPA has denied this request, it is anticipated that the ADAO will be filing a lawsuit around whether citizens are able to force the EPA to act to protect the public.
The petition that the ADAO submitted under the Toxic Substances Control Act refers specifically to the act’s citizen petition provisions. The petition asked for an exception to a rule that does not require reports be generated on naturally-occurring substances, but the ADAO is asking for a carve out for asbestos, as well as to lower the threshold for the amount of asbestos exposure need to generate a report. The EPA denied this petition, which means that it is likely that the next move will be a lawsuit filed in federal district court to see whether a judge will compel the EPA to adhere to the citizen petition.
Though it is anticipated that there will be a fair amount of legal back and forth involved, the basic fact that exposure to asbestos causes mesothelioma and other serious illnesses is expected to weigh heavily in the citizen groups’ favor, as the standard of review requires that petitioners demonstrate that “the chemical substance or mixture to be subject to such rule or order presents an unreasonable risk of injury to health or the environment, without consideration of costs or other nonrisk factors, including an unreasonable risk to a potentially exposed or susceptible subpopulation, under the conditions of use.” This means that according to the law, as long as the citizens’ groups can show that asbestos presents a significant risk, the court can rule in their favor and force the EPA to provide the requested reporting, and even to take protective action.
Though the decision remains uncertain, one thing that is clear is that mesothelioma destroys lives. If you or someone you love is a veteran who has been diagnosed with mesothelioma or any other asbestos-related disease and you need help, contact us today at 1-800-726-7245.