Trump’s Environmental Protection Agency aims to relax the rules on asbestos use

The US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is proposing to allow the greater use of asbestos in construction materials.

More than 50 countries around the world, including all 28 member states of the EU, have banned asbestos. The US has continued to allow it as long as it accounts for less than one percent of the product.

The EPA announced in June that it was considering a "significant new use rule", which would allow companies to apply to use asbestos, with applications evaluated on a case-by-case basis.

An EPA document (pictured below) states that products that may now involve asbestos in the manufacturing process include adhesives, sealants and pipeline wrapping.

The EPA’s "Proposed Significant New Uses of Asbestos"

The Architect’s Newspaper noted a recent report that said the agency would only take into consideration cases where people were in direct contact with harmful materials, but not exposure to the general environment, such as in the air or water.

Bill Walsh, Healthy Building Network board president, commented: "The Trump administration has rewritten the rules to be dramatically less protective of human health … experts who have looked at [the document] have said that in the end, it pretty much gives EPA discretion to do whatever it wants."

Asbestos can cause fatal diseases such as lung cancer and mesothelioma, a cancer that develops on the tissue surrounding the lungs. A recent study by independent non-profit Asbestos Disease Awareness Organisation found that asbestos kills 40,000 Americans each year, more than double previous estimates.

Newsweek quotes Trump’s book The Art of the Comeback: "I believe that the movement against asbestos was led by the mob, because it was often mob-related companies that would do the asbestos removal.

"Great pressure was put on politicians, and as usual, the politicians relented."

Top image courtesy of Peter Cripps/Dreamstime

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