If you have an ACS member number, please enter it here so we can link this account to your membership. (optional)

ACS values your privacy. By submitting your information, you are gaining access to C&EN and subscribing to our weekly newsletter. We use the information you provide to make your reading experience better, and we will never sell your data to third party members.


Chemical Regulation

EPA evaluates risk from legacy asbestos

The agency found that exposure asbestos found in old construction materials and other products poses an unreasonable risk to human health

by Krystal Vasquez
April 17, 2024 | A version of this story appeared in Volume 102, Issue 12


A sign saying, "Danger. Asbestos," posted outside a boarded-up building.
Credit: Shutterstock
Asbestos found in old construction materials could still pose unreasonable risks to human health.

The US Environmental Protection Agency has released a draft of the second part of its risk evaluation for asbestos. The draft focuses on the health risks associated with legacy asbestos, which can still be found in the insulation, roofing, and other construction materials that make up older buildings.

According to the preliminary assessment, the agency has found that exposure to legacy asbestos “poses unreasonable risk to human health.”

The Asbestos Disease Awareness Organization (ADAO) says it strongly supports the EPA’s conclusion. “Legacy asbestos exposure poses a serious danger to public health and can be responsible for numerous asbestos-caused diseases including, cancers, mesothelioma and lung disease,” president Linda Reinstein says in a statement.

The risk assessment arrives nearly a month after the EPA banned ongoing uses of chrysotile asbestos, the only type of asbestos still used in and imported into the US. The ban was based on a 2020 evaluation of asbestos, which the ADAO and other groups strongly criticized because it excluded the risk associated with legacy uses of chrysotile asbestos and other asbestos fibers.

The EPA agreed to complete part two of its asbestos evaluation, which includes legacy uses, by Dec. 1, 2024, under a 2021 settlement with the ADAO.

Reinstein says that ADAO experts will be closely reviewing the draft and will bring any gaps or deficiencies to the EPA’s attention during the 60-day public comment period. The American Chemistry Council (ACC), a trade group, said in a statement that it will also be providing comments to the EPA. The ACC has expressed “strong concerns” with the risk evaluation “given the broad scope of the assessment.”



This article has been sent to the following recipient:

Chemistry matters. Join us to get the news you need.