EPA Takes Historic Step in Banning Chrysotile Asbestos in U.S.

A rock formation showing chrysotile asbestos.

Today the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced a ban on chrysotile asbestos, the only type of asbestos currently being imported and used in the United States. “With today’s ban, EPA is finally slamming the door on a chemical so dangerous that it has been banned in over 50 countries,” the EPA Administrator, Michael S. Regan, stated.

Known as white asbestos, chrysotile is currently used in the United States in a variety of products. These include gaskets, brake pads, clutches, textiles, cement, roofing materials, and diaphragms used by the chlor-alkali industry to manufacture chlorine to purify drinking water.

Chrysotile, like other forms of asbestos, is known to cause lung cancer and mesothelioma, among other types of cancers and illnesses. About 40,000 deaths each year in the U.S. are attributed to exposure to asbestos. "The science is clear – asbestos is a known carcinogen that has severe impacts on public health," said Regan in a statement. "This action is just the beginning as we work to protect all American families, workers, and communities from toxic chemicals."

And health advocates couldn’t agree more that while today’s ban is a step in the right direction, there is still work to be done. “While closing the door to chrysotile imports is a historic step, the EPA rule does not restrict importation and use of five other recognized asbestos fibers,” Linda Reinstein, president and founder of Asbestos Disease Awareness Organization stated in response to today’s announcement. “We are also alarmed that the rule allows an unnecessarily long transition period and creates inconsistent compliance deadlines for certain asbestos users that will enable dangerous exposure to chrysotile asbestos to continue for years to come.”

While the EPA’s rule will ban chrysotile asbestos, the process will be gradual and different deadlines will apply to different industries. For the auto industry, the ban will be effective six months after the date of the final rule and will apply to products such as gaskets, brakes and linings, and other automotive friction products. For the chlor-alkali industry, the ban will allow a transition period ranging from five to twelve years to move from asbestos to non-asbestos diaphragms in the manufacturing of chlorine. Asbestos-containing sheet gaskets will be permitted until 2037 to ensure the safe disposal of nuclear materials at the U.S. Department of Energy’s facility located at the Savannah River Site in South Carolina.

Today’s announcement by the EPA is a definite move towards protecting public health in the United States by reducing asbestos exposure. However, the ultimate goal of a total asbestos ban remains long overdue.


  1. Christensen J. EPA bans last form of asbestos used in United States. CNN Health. March 2024.
  2. Daly M. EPA bans asbestos, a deadly carcinogen still in use decades after a partial ban was enacted. AP News. March 2024.
  3. Davenport C. U.S. Bans the Last Type of Asbestos Still in Use. The New York Times. March 2024.
  4. Hernandez J. The U.S. bans most common form of asbestos, after decades of pushback from industry. NPR. March 2024.
  5. Phillips A. U.S. fully bans asbestos, which kills 40,000 a year. The Washington Post. March 2024.

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