Proposed rule could let asbestos be included in more products


(CBS) -- Asbestos was used in many products up through the 1970's but after being linked to lung cancer and tens of thousands of deaths and liability many manufacturers in the U.S. dropped it out of their products. However, the U.S. never banned it outright.

Now, the substance is one of 10 being reviewed by the EPA to be included in more products. Groups such as the Environmental Working Group are concerned that the EPA is actually moving to weaken protections and make consumers less safe.

"It's really cooking the books on the level of risk that EPA is able to identify," says EWG Attorney Melanie Benesh.

Benesh says the EPA won't be taking a comprehensive review and evaluating the risks of asbestos in some places like home, work and school environments.

"If you are ignoring major ways that people are exposed to a toxic substance, you may dramatically underestimate the risks."

In a phone interview, Nancy Beck, the Trump administration appointee who oversees the agency's toxic chemical unit, told us
"The criticism just makes me sad..." she said the agency is "...working hard to put in place a program grounded in science."

She says current EPA proposals would amount to new regulations, that,"We're putting in place a hammer, a prohibition that doesn't exist today."