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EPA scales back review of asbestos and deadly chemicals

Dangerous chemicals in houses and business could be left in place by a review under the Trump administration.

An EPA clean-up crew removes asbestos in Libby, Montana, site of one of America's worst and most expensive environmental disasters.

Andrew Lichtenstein/Getty

A US government review of dangerous chemicals will be reduced in scope leaving potentially millions of tons of toxins in homes and businesses. 

The review by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) will cover potentially deadly chemicals including asbestos and carbon tetrachloride, many of which are known or thought to cause cancer. Instead of covering the chemicals and materials already in insulation materials, roofing and other uses that might expose people to toxins, the review will be limited to new products being manufactured, sold or imported.

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Phys.org reports that the review, which began under the previous administration, has been scaled back by President Donald Trump's administration under pressure from the chemical industry. The EPA has been on the front line of the Trump administration's tough stance on regulation and the environment, blocking scientists from discussing climate change and subjecting scientific findings to vetting by political staff.

Asbestos is banned in many countries including the UK, where it was banned in 1999, but remains in many homes and buildings. An attempt to ban asbestos in the US failed in 1991, and it is still not technically banned despite causing the disease mesothelioma.

The EPA did not immediately respond to a request for comment. 

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