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Frosh Sues EPA, Seeking Federal Regulation of Asbestos

Maryland Attorney General Brian E. Frosh (D) and 11 state attorneys general filed a federal  lawsuit Monday challenging the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s failure to regulate asbestos.

The attorneys general had previously petitioned the EPA to create a new rule requiring data collection on the importation and use of asbestos, one of the world’s most toxic substances.

“The failure to regulate asbestos, or to collect data on its adverse health impacts, lands squarely on the shoulders of the EPA’s administrator,” Frosh said in a statement. “We are asking the EPA to do what it’s supposed to do—protect Americans from deadly toxins, even those that are ‘naturally occurring’ like asbestos.”

Asbestos, a carcinogen that takes 15,000 lives per year, is linked to diseases that are life-threatening or cause substantial pain and suffering, including mesothelioma, fibrosis, lung cancer, gastrointestinal cancer, and other lung disorders and diseases. There is no safe level of exposure to this highly toxic material.

Currently, the EPA does not possess, and is not collecting, the necessary comprehensive data about the importation, processing, and use of asbestos and asbestos-containing articles in the United States. In January, the coalition of state attorneys general petitioned the EPA to set rules monitoring and regulating asbestos, under the federal Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA), but the agency rejected the petition in April.

In their lawsuit challenging EPA’s denial of the petition, the states argue that the rulemaking they requested is necessary under TSCA, and that the denial of the petition was arbitrary and capricious, and violates the agency’s obligations under TSCA.

The lawsuit, filed in U.S. District Court for California, was led by California Attorney General Xavier Becerra (D), and was joined by the attorneys general of Connecticut, the District of Columbia, Hawaii, Maine, Massachusetts, Minnesota, New Jersey, Oregon, and Washington. All are Democrats.

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Frosh Sues EPA, Seeking Federal Regulation of Asbestos