How to correctly interpret the EPA’s proposed Significant New Use Rule

As many of you may have heard, the Trump Administration’s EPA has proposed a Significant New Use Rule (SNUR) for asbestos, which many people have inaccurately interpreted as an allowance the EPA is providing for new uses of asbestos in the United States. This is not entirely true, however, and deserves some clarification. In effect, what the EPA has proposed with the SNUR is the development of a mechanism for the agency to approve currently unregulated uses of asbestos.

 

Asbestos, as many of you know, is not illegal in the United States thanks to a 1991 appeals court ruling in which an EPA ban on asbestos was blocked—except for a few asbestos containing materials including corrugated paper and flooring felt. The SNUR actually provides the EPA a means in which to approve or deny “new uses” of asbestos, meaning asbestos products that haven’t been banned, but are currently not being used because of liability concerns in the United States. In short, no, the EPA is not allowing new uses of asbestos in the United States. Rather, they are simply subjecting companies who want to use currently legal asbestos products in the United States to review by the agency.

 

CHC Training offers an extensive selection of asbestos-related initial and refresher classes that will help prepare you and your employees to handle the presence of asbestos in the construction, renovation and demolition industries. Without a clearly defined EPA ban, the prevalence of asbestos in the US is likely to increase, and asbestos hazard identification is more important than ever. We offer our Asbestos Building Inspector classes at least once a month and can train you and your workers to correctly and safely identify asbestos-containing materials before work begins.

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