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Asbestos exposure could increase because of EPA's new policy

There is no denying the devastating effect that asbestos has on countless mesothelioma sufferers. South Carolina victims of asbestos exposure often deal with serious and debilitating health effects even before they develop the deadly cancer. Now, new limited analysis at the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency will put even more individuals at risk for asbestos exposure and subsequent illness.

The Toxic Substances Control Act of 1976 was amended in 2016, mandating that the EPA evaluate hazardous materials and chemicals, then determine if those chemicals should be restricted or even banned. Now, the EPA is narrowing its risk factors for 10 of those substances. The agency will no longer consider the health risks of exposure to harmful substances through soil, air or water that has been contaminated, and will instead only assess the dangers of directly touching a chemical or material.

When it comes to asbestos, only new uses will be reviewed. The danger of existing asbestos will no longer be on the EPA's radar, which could put an untold number of people at risk for possible exposure. Asbestos is not the only chemical that the EPA is lowering its standards for. Perchloroethylene is a likely carcinogen that is largely used for dry-cleaning purposes, but the EPA will not consider any harm caused by contaminated drinking water, which is a problem in 44 states.

An estimate from the Environmental Defense Fund states that the EPA will ignore 68 million lbs. worth of worrying emissions annually. Limited analysis may also increase the risk for asbestos exposure in South Carolina. Those who develop mesothelioma or other deadly health effects from asbestos often require compensation through carefully pursued civil suits in order to fully address the financial, physical and emotional aspect of their injuries.

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