On June 1st, 2018, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), specifically the Office of Pollution Prevention and Toxics, proposed a new rule concerning asbestos. This rule, the “Significant New Use Rule” or SNUR had two parts: first blocking some of the currently unregulated uses of asbestos, and then building a new framework for those and other new uses of asbestos to gain formal approval after testing and a safety review by the EPA. For asbestos watchdogs, this is why the SNUR is concerning, as it could potentially bring in new asbestos products into the US for use.
Understanding Why There is Unbanned Asbestos
As we’ve talked about before in our blog, The Rise and Fall of Banning Asbestos: Repeal of the ABPR, there was a time where there was a categorical ban on pretty much all asbestos products on the market, particularly when it came to construction materials and household goods. However, in a 1991 courtroom case, this ban was partially overturned, leaving some products in limbo between explicitly banned and unbanned. The current administration of the EPA says that the Significant New Use Rule is to block (not ban) these unbanned products and then review them for safety, after which they could potentials make it back on the market.
Understanding the Outrage on the SNUR
If you look for articles on the SNUR, you’ll find headlines for it such as “Critics outraged over EPA’s proposal on asbestos” or “EPA Is Failing to Protect School Children From Asbestos,” citing concerns about the SNUR as a potential avenue for new and dangerous asbestos products to make it to market. It is important to under that since this rule is for new use, the products that are banned (see the list here) are still banned. Also, the products that are already still made with asbestos (there are a lot) are not going to be affected by this ruling. Any possibility of more asbestos products that were once banned making it back onto market, critics argue, is bad.
The supposed need for the SNUR, the reactions to it, and the grey area of asbestos in the US are all cause for concern. Many homes, schools, and office could contain asbestos, especially if they were built before the 90s. Worried your property might? Then it’s time to talk to Fiber Control, Inc. We’re specialists that are fully licensed in both Massachusetts and New Hampshire, and we’re here to help. Contact us today for a consultation on your property and problem.