Audit, Compliance and Risk Blog

EPA announces final phase-outs of commerce in remaining asbestos-containing products

Posted by Jon Elliott on Mon, May 20, 2024

Face_maskOn March 28, 2024, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) published phase-out schedules leading to a ban on the remaining permissible uses of chrysotile no later than December 31, 2037. EPA applies expanded authority provided as part of amendments adopted to the Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA) in 2016; EPA first attempted to ban asbestos products in 1989 but was partially blocked by litigation. These rules finalize a proposal from April 2022 (which I wrote about HERE). The remainder of this note discusses the rule, and the history of this round of rulemakings since 2016.

What’s the Present Legal Status of Asbestos-Containing Products?

As many readers know, asbestos was a widely-used insulating material, eventually proven to pose significant cancer and other health hazards to exposed individuals. Beginning in 1979, EPA spent a decade applying its TSCA authority to assess the risks and benefits of asbestos-containing products. In 1989 EPA issued regulations scheduling future prohibitions on the manufacture, importation, processing, and distribution of most asbestos-containing products. However, litigation brought by domestic and foreign producers of asbestos and manufacturers of asbestos-containing materials (joined by provincial and federal governments in Canada) alleged serious procedural defects in EPA’s rulemaking. In 1991, the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals agreed with many of these arguments (Corrosion Proof Fittings v. EPA), vacated the phaseout provisions but sustained EPA’s authority to restrict or ban new uses of asbestos. As a result, since 1991:

  • Corrugated paper, rollboard, commercial and specialty paper, flooring felt, and new uses of asbestos-containing products are banned (since August 25, 1989).
  • Asbestos-cement corrugated and flat sheet, asbestos-cement shingle and pipe, asbestos clothing, pipeline wrap, roofing felt, vinyl-asbestos floor tile, millboard, automatic transmission components, clutch facings, friction materials, disc brake pads, drum brake linings, brake blocks, gaskets, and non-roofing and roofing coatings are not banned, but EPA retains authority to establish regulations.

The 2016 TSCA amendments authorized EPA to protect against “unreasonable risks to human health,” up to and including bans on chemical use. EPA has used this authority to revisit the regulatory status of existing and potential future asbestos-containing products. In 2016 EPA designated asbestos as one of the first 10 chemical substances subject to chemical risk evaluations (I wrote about this HERE). In 2019 EPA required that “discontinued” uses of asbestos receive new review and approval before they can be reintroduced into commerce in the United States (I wrote about this HERE). EPA determined that chrysotile asbestos is the only type of asbestos where import, processing, and distribution in commerce for use is known, intended, or reasonably foreseen in the U.S. In 2021, EPA completed review and issued its “Final Risk Evaluation for Asbestos, Part 1: Chrysotile Asbestos”, in which it finds “unreasonable risks to human health for uses of chrysotile asbestos.”

What has EPA just done?

EPA’s new rules will prohibit the manufacture (including import), processing, distribution in commerce and commercial use of the last permissible uses of chrysotile asbestos, after the following phase-out periods:

  • chrysotile asbestos, including any chrysotile asbestos-containing products or articles, for diaphragms in the chlor-alkali industry:
    • 5/28/24 (immediate) - ban manufacture
    • 5/28/29 (5 years) - ban processing, distribution in commerce and commercial use, except an entity with 2 or more facilities as of 5/28/24 using chrysotile asbestos in the chlor-alkali industry of which it is converting at least 2 to non-chrysotile inputs may continue until 5/28/36 (12 years) if converts one facility by 5/28/29 (5 years) and another by 5/28/32 (8 years), and provides required certifications
  • chrysotile asbestos, including any chrysotile asbestos-containing products or articles, for sheet gaskets in chemical production
    • 5/28/26 - ban (most) manufacture, processing, distribution in commerce and commercial use; use for titanium oxide production or processing nuclear materials or titanium oxide production require specified exposure controls
    • 5/28/29 – ban commercial use for processing nuclear materials (with exposure controls) or titanium oxide production
    • 12/31/37 – ban use for processing nuclear material at Savannah River Site
  • 11/25/24 – ban manufacture, processing, distribution in commerce and commercial use for oilfield brake blocks; aftermarket automotive brakes and linings; other vehicle friction products; and other gaskets (items already installed for use may continue)
  • 11/25/24 – disposal of any chrysotile asbestos and any chrysotile asbestos-containing products or articles is subject to specified requirements
  • 11/25/24 – record keeping requirements apply to manufacture, processing, distribution in commerce and commercial use.

What happens now?

As noted above, EPA’s latest rules ban different activities involving any chrysotile asbestos and any chrysotile asbestos-containing products or articles, on a variety of schedules between May 28, 2024 and December 31, 2037. Organizations involved with any of these materials should evaluate their activities and prepare to meet applicable deadlines.

Readers should also note that EPA is also conducting a risk evaluation for other types of asbestos fibers that are no longer used but may be present in buildings and products. The agency has stated that it will release a draft of this risk evaluation “soon” and will publish the final risk evaluation by Dec. 1, 2024.

Self-evaluation checklist

Does the organization manufacture, import, process, distribute or use any asbestos-containing products that contain chrysotile asbestos?

  • If so, are any of the products included among those that EPA has now scheduled to ban from future manufacture, import, distribution and processing?
  • If so, does the organization have alternative products that it can substitute for those EPA is proposing to ban?

Is the organization preparing to comment on EPA’s proposal?

Where can I go for more information?

About the Author

jon_f_elliottJon Elliott is President of Touchstone Environmental and has been a major contributor to STP’s product range for over 30 years. 

Mr. Elliott has a diverse educational background. In addition to his Juris Doctor (University of California, Boalt Hall School of Law, 1981), he holds a Master of Public Policy (Goldman School of Public Policy [GSPP], UC Berkeley, 1980), and a Bachelor of Science in Mechanical Engineering (Princeton University, 1977).

Mr. Elliott is active in professional and community organizations. In addition, he is a past chairman of the Board of Directors of the GSPP Alumni Association, and past member of the Executive Committee of the State Bar of California's Environmental Law Section (including past chair of its Legislative Committee).

You may contact Mr. Elliott directly at:


Tags: Environmental, EPA, tsca, Toxic, Toxics Release, asbestos