EPA’s Efforts to Protect Asbestos Companies May Lead to Lawsuit by Mesothelioma Advocates
When a person is diagnosed with malignant mesothelioma, they are suddenly confronted with an overwhelming amount of information. They learn what the disease is, what its treatments are, and that the condition is always considered to be fatal. They also learn that, unlike many other forms of cancer, it has a single known cause – exposure to asbestos. This information is particularly upsetting, as the companies that use and produce asbestos-contaminated products have long known that it is a carcinogen, but have continued the process because it is so profitable for them. In response, there is a growing movement of activists who have attempted to get asbestos banned in the United States. Their efforts nearly came to fruition with the passage of the Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA) under President Barack Obama, but the Trump administration has worked against that action, favoring the chemical industry over victims. But now a group of activists may take legal action to force the Environmental Protection Agency to provide more reporting on asbestos used by industry.
The actions by mesothelioma advocates began in September when a group led by the Asbestos Disease Awareness Organization filed a petition under the rules of the TSCA requiring additional information collection regarding asbestos. Under the law, reporting is not required for naturally occurring substances like asbestos, and the petition is looking for an exclusion that would both include it and lower the applicable reporting threshold significantly. The TSCA specifically allows citizens to submit these types of petitions, and to further proceed with a lawsuit in federal district court if the agency denies their requests. Now that the EPA has issued a denial, it is likely that the ADAO and other citizens’ groups will test the process.
Though mesothelioma advocates would have preferred it if the Environmental Protection Agency had simply complied with their petition’s request, there is hope that they will be on firm legal ground for the next step, in which the criteria that is applied to the federal judge’s decision in a lawsuit is defined as “the petitioners demonstrating “to the satisfaction of the court by a preponderance of the evidence 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.” Clearly exposure to asbestos and its associated risk factors meets this standard.
Mesothelioma and other asbestos-related diseases ruin lives, and any action being taken to stop the scourge of asbestos exposure is worthy of support. If you or someone you love has been affected by this carcinogen and you need information on the help that is available to you, contact us today at 1-800-966-2244.