California Attorney General Xavier Becerra is helping lead a coalition of 14 state attorneys demanding the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) strengthen the asbestos reporting rule as part of the Chemical Data Reporting Rule under the Toxic Substance Control Act.

“It’s widely known that asbestos is one of the most harmful chemicals known to humankind,” said Becerra in an official press release from the California Attorney General’s Office. “We call on Acting Administrator Wheeler to being the process of eliminating exemptions that allow this unsafe chemical to continue to harm tens of thousands of people each year.”

Under the current rule, the EPA does not require data regarding the importing, processing or use of asbestos and asbestos-containing materials in the United States because it is considered a “naturally occurring substance.” Becerra and his coalition are petitioning the EPA to issue a new rule eliminating this exemption.

In addition to eliminating the exemption, the petition is also urging the EPA to require manufacturers and processors of asbestos to adhere to all reporting requirements, require reporting for products containing the mineral and eliminate asbestos from the exemption in impurities.

This is not the first time the EPA has been asked to toughen their stance against asbestos. In 2018, numerous non-governmental organizations petitioned the EPA to increase reporting of the mineral. The petition was denied on the grounds of insufficient information.

Asbestos has yet to be banned entirely in the United States, but it remains heavily regulated. The mineral has not been manufactured or mined in the country since 2002, but it’s still found in 90% of ships in the maritime industry today.

Vessels known for containing the highest level of asbestos are U.S. Navy ships. Asbestos was used to ensure the vessel could withstand extreme levels of heat and fire, so materials such as flooring, insulation and adhesives contained the toxic mineral. Even vessel such as cargo ships, container vessels and tugs boats are also known for having high levels of asbestos.

Mesothelioma is a grave threat to maritime workers since asbestos was once so widely used in the industry. Asbestos exposure is the sole cause of mesothelioma.

If you have mesothelioma and believe it was caused by exposure to asbestos while working in the maritime industry, contact BOATLAW, LLP.