The US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is revising its method of evaluating the health risks of asbestos.
In a recent announcement, EPA head Scott Pruitt said it will no longer assess the possible health impacts of asbestos already in the environment. But, he reiterated that it will continue to evaluate and require approval for new asbestos use. It means the existence of asbestos in roofing, piping, tiles and many other materials throughout the homes and establishments in the US will remain unchecked.
The decision comes three decades after the now President Donald Trump claimed the petition to ban asbestos was a conspiracy. It is despite asbestos kills nearly 15,000 people in the US annually.
Trump: Asbestos is 100% Safe Once Applied
Asbestos is a fibrous mineral that was widely present in houses and other establishments constructed before 1980 due to its high heat and fire-resistant properties. The mineral is not dangerous in itself, but when damaged such as through demolishing and remodeling, it can release loose particles that when inhaled, can cause serious diseases such asbestos, mesothelioma and several other types of cancer.
But, in his 1997 biography titled, “The Art of the Comeback, Trump argued that asbestos is “100% safe once applied. He went on to say, “I believe that the movement against asbestos was led by the mob because it was often mob-related companies that would do the asbestos removal,” the Newsweek, who first wrote the story recalls.
The EPA move follows after the Toxic Substances Control Act in 2016 was amended to require the agency to conduct safety reviews of several chemicals and substances, and allowing them to ban the certain uses of asbestos. The decision was met with different opinions.
Asbestos Disease Awareness Organization President Linda Reinstein said the move will result in an inadequate risk evaluation that will fail to address the increasing toll of asbestos mortality and disease in the US.
“If you don’t evaluate the dangerous legacy of asbestos you don’t know how much contamination still exists in the United States,” Newsweek quoted Reinstein in a statement.
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