Asbestos Ban and Phase Out, 1989

Code of Federal Regulations – Asbestos Manufacture, Importation, Processing, and Distribution in Commerce Prohibitions; Final Rule (40 CFR 763)

A 1989 ruling by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency banned the use of asbestos in a wide variety of consumer products.  This ban fell under section 6 of the Toxic Substances Control Act for the purpose of prohibiting “the future manufacture, importation, processing, and distribution in commerce of asbestos in almost all products.”  The ruling recognized the health risks arising from the use of asbestos and required that all banned products be labeled as such.

Timeline

The Final Rule laid the groundwork for a three-stage ban with one set of dates for ceasing manufacture, import, and processing, and a second set for ceasing commercial distribution.  The stages and their corresponding asbestos-containing materials were as follows: Stage One: Manufacture, import, and processing to cease on August 27, 1990 Commercial distribution to cease on August 25, 1992
  • Flooring felt
  • Roofing felt
  • Pipeline wrap
  • Asbestos/Cement (AC) flat sheet
  • A/C corrugated sheet
  • Vinyl/asbestos floor tile
  • Asbestos clothing
Stage Two: Manufacture, import, and processing to cease on August 25, 1993 Commercial distribution to cease on August 25, 1994
  • Beater-add gaskets (except specialty industrial gaskets)
  • Sheet gaskets (except specialty industrial gaskets)
  • Clutch facings
  • Automatic transmission components
  • Commercial and industrial friction products
  • Drum brake linings (original equipment market)
  • Disc brake pads (original equipment market)
Stage Three: Manufacture, import, and processing to cease on August 26, 1996 Commercial distribution to cease on August 25, 1997
  • A/C pipe
  • Commercial paper
  • Corrugated paper
  • Rollboard
  • Millboard
  • A/C shingle
  • Specialty paper
  • Roof coatings
  • Non-roof coatings
  • Brake blocks
  • Drum brake linings (after market)
  • Disc brake pads (after market)
As of these dates, any manufacturer with the products remaining in stock would be required to label them as containing asbestos.  The EPA also set a timeline for the submission of application for exemption, along with the establishment of procedures for military exemptions.

Health Risks

As a part of the study done for the ruling, the EPA consulted “health agencies, scientific organizations, and independent experts” about the consequences of asbestos exposure on human health.  The ruling recognizes the following diseases as health effects of asbestos: lung cancer and mesothelioma, gastrointestinal cancer, cancer at other sites (laryngeal, kidney, ovarian, etc.), and asbestosis.  While some argued that the chrysotile type of asbestos, the most commonly used type, presented significantly fewer dangers than the amphibole type, the EPA found that argument to be “inconclusive and inconsistent.”

Overturning the Ban

Unfortunately, most parts of this ban were overturned by the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals of New Orleans in 1991 before many of the prohibitions became active.  While certain asbestos-containing products (flooring felt; rollboard; corrugated, commercial, or specialty paper; and new products that have not historically contained asbestos) remain illegal, many others remain unregulated by the EPA. References:
  • U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. (June 7, 2010). “Asbestos Ban and Phase Out.” Retrieved March 21, 2011 from the EPA.
  • U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. (July 12, 1989). “Asbestos Manufacture, Importation, Processing, and Distribution in Commerce Prohibitions; Final Rule.” Retrieved March 21, 2011 from the EPA.