The US EPA has postponed the Science Advisory Committee on Chemicals (Sacc) peer review meeting on the draft risk evaluation for asbestos.
The virtual meeting was scheduled for 27-30 April, but the EPA has delayed the meeting “due to recent changes in the availability of [Sacc] members”. The agency did not say when the meeting would be rescheduled.
Sacc advisory panels provide independent recommendations to the EPA on the scientific basis for the agencys risk assessments.
Back in March the Asbestos Disease Awareness Organization asked the EPA to postpone the meeting and said it is “delighted the EPA finally listened to the scientific and public health communities and rescheduled the virtual Sacc meeting due to the coronavirus pandemic”, the group said.
The agency did not cite the Covid-19 pandemic in its statement announcing the delay. When reached for comment, an EPA spokesperson said the agencys statement “speaks for itself”.
The EPA published its draft risk evaluation for asbestos in late March, focusing on “ongoing” uses of the heat-resistant silicate. In it, the agency provisionally identified a number of unreasonable risks to workers, occupational non-users, consumers and bystanders, including from the use of asbestos diaphragms in the chlor-alkali industry.
A preparatory virtual meeting was held on 7 April. This was designed to help the advisory panel consider the scope and clarity of the draft evaluation in preparation for the peer review.
At that meeting, the American Chemistry Council (ACC) recommended revisions to questions related to the chlor-alkali industry. It asked if the approach for attributing values for sample results that are below the limit of detection were consistent with EPA Superfund guidance for asbestos risk assessment.
Comments on the draft risk evaluation are due by 2 June. The EPA said it did not anticipate a delay to this deadline. But it did say that all written comments received on time would be given to the Sacc for a rescheduled peer review meeting.
The EPA said it would issue another announcement once a new date for the Sacc is finalised.
Chemcial Watch, 21 April 2020