On June 1, 2018, the Environment Protection Agency (EPA) proposed a highly controversial “Significant New Use Rule” (SNUR) that may impact how asbestos is manufactured and imported. Asbestos refers to a cluster of naturally occurring silicate minerals that used to be a popular and profitable construction and manufacturing material due to their insulating and fireproofing properties. For many years, various American industries and even the United States armed forces utilized asbestos for its beneficial properties.
However, in the 1900s, scientists and medical professionals started implementing studies that clearly identified the carcinogenic potential of asbestos. As a result, lawmakers across the world began legally banning asbestos and asbestos-containing products. However, the United States is currently one of the only developed countries that hasn’t outright banned asbestos as a manufacturing product. Because corporate and public interests continue to war over the mineral, American lawmakers have only been able to pass the EPA’s 1973 Clean Air Act and the 1989 Asbestos Ban and Phase Out Rule.
If adopted, the SNUR would allow industries to once again produce and import asbestos-containing materials and products so long as the manufacturer receives EPA approval. Ideally, this SNUR allows the EPA to protect public safety by regulating and denying how industries utilize and profiteer from the mineral. In reality, the EPA, under the Trump Administration, is significantly altering its evaluation process regarding potentially harmful chemical substances. In fact, the EPA recently announced that it will not evaluate information from existing asbestos studies, despite the plentitude of scientific reports and research materials that identify the health risks. This may give companies new opportunities to introduce asbestos-containing products into the United States.
The SNUR currently applies to, but is not limited to:
- Electrical paper
- Reinforced plastics
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At Pierce | Sloan, our Charleston asbestos defense lawyers have successfully represented countless insurance and corporate clients in asbestos cases throughout the United States. With over 20 years of legal experience, our trial-tested legal team can defend you against any toxic tort liability claim.
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