For several months CPSC staff has been investigating the human health implications of potential consumer exposure to asbestos fibers released from a product known as asbestos paper.
In early March nine major manufacturers of the product were sent letters from CPSC staff asking them to provide certain information to the staff and to take specific actions to remove asbestos paper from the marketplace. These actions were designed to terminate all sales of asbestos paper for consumer use and for use by contractors in consumers' homes.
The Commissioners have been advised that CPSC staff has signed a letter of agreement with one major manufacturer, the GAF Corporation of New York City, through which the corporation, effective April 1, will discontinue the sale of GAF asbestos paper products for sale (or repackaging for sale) to consumers and home contractors.
GAF also agreed to urge its customers to cease the distribution of asbestos paper products for home application, and to inform them of the role of CPSC staff in this matter.
GAF was the first major manufacturer of asbestos paper to respond to CPSC staff and make a commitment to end sales to consumers by eliminating its own sales to all buyers, distributors and retail outlets for use in consumers' homes. The company has prepared its own statement of its actions, which is attached separately.
The staff is scheduled to brief the Commissioners on April 2 concerning the consumer uses and sales of asbestos paper as well as the potential health effects on consumers. The staff will recommend that the Commission develop a regulation to ban all sales of asbestos paper for use in consumers' homes and to consider the possibility of a recall to remove asbestos paper from the marketplace. The Commission is scheduled to vote on this staff recommendation on April 9.
CPSC staff has received test results from the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health indicating that asbestos fibers are released into the ambient air from asbestos paper when the product is folded, torn or cut. The fiber emission levels reported by NIOSH were substantially higher than those reported last year following NIOSH tests on hand-held hair dryers manufactured with asbestos paper.
There is a wide body of medical evidence directly linking human exposure to asbestos fibers with several forms of cancer and a serious lung disease called "asbestosis."
The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission is charged with protecting the public from unreasonable risks of injury or death associated with the use of thousands of types of consumer products under the agency’s jurisdiction. Deaths, injuries, and property damage from consumer product incidents cost the nation more than $1 trillion annually. CPSC is committed to protecting consumers and families from products that pose a fire, electrical, chemical or mechanical hazard. CPSC's work to help ensure the safety of consumer products - such as toys, cribs, power tools, cigarette lighters and household chemicals -– contributed to a decline in the rate of deaths and injuries associated with consumer products over the past 40 years.
Federal law bars any person from selling products subject to a publicly-announced voluntary recall by a manufacturer or a mandatory recall ordered by the Commission.
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