Exposure to asbestos continues to wreak havoc on the lives of people around the world, causing malignant mesothelioma, lung cancer, asbestosis and other serious and fatal diseases. In the face of pressure from victims and asbestos companies alike, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency is considering more than 75 comments regarding their Risk Evaluation for Asbestos. While health advocates are lobbying for an outright ban of the toxic substance, the chemical industry worries that the agency will shift its established threshold of danger, effectively eliminating their ability to defend against personal injury lawsuits.
Will EPA Change the Mesothelioma Legal Landscape?
While mesothelioma victims rightly want asbestos and asbestos-containing products entirely eliminated from the American landscape, those on the other side of the argument worry that the draft Risk Evaluation issued in March of 2020 would create new legal obligations for manufacturers and suppliers. These companies would have to report information about the hazards posed by their products.
Of even greater concern is the EPA’s proposed lowering of the Inhalation Unit Risk (IUR) for chrysotile asbestos, a number which is often referenced by expert witnesses during mesothelioma litigation. Asbestos companies worry that a lowering would shift the perceived risk of different types of asbestos in the eyes of mesothelioma juries, making it more likely that victims will win their lawsuits.
Asbestos Companies’ May Lose “Chrysotile Defense”
The IUR is an estimate of cancer risk, i.e. the risk of being diagnosed with malignant mesothelioma, for someone who has a lifetime of exposure to asbestos. Asbestos manufacturers worry that the proposed IUR for chrysotile asbestos is contrary to their preferred position that chrysotile is less dangerous than amphibole asbestos. This would jeopardize their use of the “chrysotile defense” that says that it does not cause mesothelioma or that calculates the risk in a way that is contrary to asbestos victims’ claims of negligence.
Though the EPA has more than 75 comments to consider before releasing their final decision on asbestos, they have pledged to make their final decision by the end of 2020.
The EPA’s decision is likely to have a significant impact on the risk of malignant mesothelioma and other asbestos-related diseases, as well as on legal issues involving asbestos. For more information, contact the Patient Advocates at Mesothelioma.net at 1-800-692-8608.