The Environmental Protection Agency will not consider the health risks and impacts of asbestos already in the environment when evaluating the dangers associated with the chemical compound, Scott Pruitt, the agency’s head, quietly announced last week. That means asbestos used in tiles, piping and adhesives throughout homes and businesses in the United States will remain largely unchecked and unaccounted for. Nearly 15,000 Americans die each year from asbestos-related diseases, but President Donald Trump has called the substance “100 percent safe, once applied.”
In his 1997 book, The Art of the Comeback, 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.
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).