Maine Attorney General Aaron Frey joined a coalition of 15 other state attorneys general on Thursday in calling on the federal Environmental Protection Agency to issue new rules to eliminate exemptions for asbestos reporting.

The coalition believes that without adequate reporting and tracking systems in place, the EPA will be unable to comply with its mandate to prevent risks to the health and environment posed by widespread use of asbestos, Frey said in a new release.

“The evidence is clear that asbestos is a deadly substance, and the Toxic Substances Control Act is an important tool for protecting people from the risks posed by similar substances,” Frey said. “This rule would allow the EPA to comply with the Act by giving them the information they need to properly regulate asbestos. In doing so, lives can be saved.”

Asbestos is a carcinogen that claims 15,000 lives per year, Frey said. Asbestos is linked to diseases that are life threatening, or cause substantial pain and suffering, including mesothelioma, fibrosis, lung cancer and gastrointestinal cancer.

Frey said that the EPA is currently not tracking and reporting the use of asbestos in the United States. The proposed rule would among other things require the processors of asbestos, as well as manufacturers and importers, to adhere to reporting requirements.

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