Under President Donald Trump, the Environmental Protection Agency will not concern itself with legacy asbestos, meaning the agency will not consider the health risks of asbestos already in the environment.
According to Newsweek, the EPA will focus only on new applications of asbestos – a chemical that causes the deaths of thousands of Americans each year.
The Trump EPA's decision came in response to new amendments made to the Toxic Substances Control Act in 2016. The additions to the bill mandate that the EPA perform safety reviews of certain chemicals, require testing and public notice of safety info for said chemicals and allow the EPA to ban certain uses of asbestos (previously, the EPA did not have the authority to do so).
The EPA announced last Friday that it would evaluate and require approval for new uses of asbestos but would not evaluate the health risks of asbestos already in the environment.
Based on his 1997 book The Art of the Comeback, Newsweek notes that Trump likely will see no problem with the decision:
Trump argued that the association of the chemical with health risks was part of a mob-created conspiracy. “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,” he wrote.
Others, however, are understandably dismayed with EPA's course of action.
“The end result will be a seriously inadequate risk evaluation that fails to address major contributors to the heavy and growing toll of asbestos mortality and disease in the United States,” said Linda Reinstein, president of the Asbestos Disease Awareness Organization in a statement.