Ten U.S. states and Washington, D.C. sued the Environmental Protection Agency to begin working on rules to tighten oversight of asbestos, and reduce the health risks that the substance poses to the public.
The attorneys general from California and Massachusetts, Xavier Becerra and Maura Healey, said on Monday they are leading the case, after the EPA denied the states’ petition that it collect more data on asbestos.
A spokesman for the EPA and its administrator, Andrew Wheeler, said the agency does not discuss pending litigation.
Asbestos is a carcinogen once used widely in fireproofing and insulation. Many companies stopped using it by the mid-1970s after it was linked to mesothelioma and other types of cancer.
Federal law still allows limited uses of asbestos, and Congress in 2016 amended the federal Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA) to create a process for regulating the substance. Symptoms from asbestos exposure can take decades to surface.
“Asbestos is a known carcinogen that kills tens of thousands of people every year, yet the Trump administration is choosing to ignore the very serious health risks it poses,” Healey, a Democrat, said in a statement.