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Boxer Calls on EPA to Regulate Asbestos Under New TSCA Law

Sen. Barbara Boxer (D-Calif.) called on the Environmental Protection Agency on Friday to regulate asbestos under the newly reformed Toxic Substances Control Act, which was signed into law in June.

The original TSCA law, passed in 1976, gave the EPA such little room to operate that its first attempt to regulate asbestos was ruled illegal according to the law’s language, which left many chemical regulations up to states. The new law gives the EPA a greater ability to regulate, and it calls on the agency select 10 chemicals by mid-December to review for possible regulations.

Boxer, the ranking Democrat on the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee, sent a letter to EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy saying asbestos should be part of that first round. She pointed to research from the Asbestos Disease Awareness Organization, estimating that there are 15,000 asbestos-related deaths per year in the U.S., including 11,000 from lung cancer.

“The combination of well-documented, widespread and serious health effects and ongoing use
and exposure provides a strong basis for EPA to act quickly on asbestos,” Boxer wrote.

Boxer was a late holdout on TSCA reform, expressing concern about how the federal law would pre-empt state chemical laws, which are strict in California. Boxer’s eventual support for the new law was key in reaching a final deal between House and Senate lawmakers.