Is A Full US Asbestos Ban Finally In Sight?

The dangers of asbestos have been known since the middle of the 1960s. More than 60 countries worldwide have banned asbestos. Why not the United States? And is a full asbestos ban finally in sight?
In the US, many moves have been made to restrict asbestos. You can read more about that here. The problem is, no actual bans have been made. In June, a new use rule became effective. But two government officials say that the restrictions actually don’t do anything. They argue that at worst it is a ‘toothless’ measure against asbestos use and may actually cause more loopholes for companies to find ways to use asbestos. This rule details what companies need to do in order for them to be allowed to use asbestos in their products. But the products that are currently being sold are allowed to be continued in sale. A few products containing asbestos are outlawed. Some products have been phased out by industry rather than by law. The new use rule doesn’t allow those products to come back into sale without a detailed examination. But some argue that the companies wouldn’t want to bring these products back into sale anyways. Richard Lemen is co-author of an article in the July 10th online issue of the New England Journal of Medicine. He said more than 60 countries have already banned asbestos. It is far past time that America does, too. Especially since there are other things that can stand in to help with fireproofing. Linda Reinstein, who is the president of the non-profit Asbestos Disease Awareness Organization says it has been a hundred year man-made disaster. What is so bad about asbestos? When it is disturbed, tiny fibers can get into the body and cause deadly cancers of the lungs, organs, and ovaries four decades later. Lemen did point out that a full ban is in sight. The Alan Reinstein “Ban Asbestos Now” bill is named after Linda Reinstein’s late husband who died of an asbestos related disease. The bill is currently before both houses of congress and Reinstein is quite optimistic. Asbestos isn’t used much anymore. There are certain jobs which have a greater risk for asbestos exposure. These include firefighters, construction and demolition workers, and shipyard workers. A complete ban has remained elusive. In 1989, the EPA tried to get a complete ban, but it was overturned in court. Instead a few specific uses were banned. Like floor tile, roofing, and adhesives. Currently the biggest use is the chlor-alkali industry in making chlorine and caustic soda. Most uses have been phased out by industry. To Reinstein and her group the new use rule is an empty gesture. The EPA is, as she explains it, throwing them a bone, but not giving them a ban. The new use rule does nothing to stop the chlor-alkali industry from using asbestos and they are the biggest problem. Asbestos is widely known as a killer. Yet in 2018 about 750 metric tons of raw asbestos were imported into the United States and the chlor-alkali industry used it all. According to Reinstein it is outrageous that the chlor-alkali industry has managed to keep asbestos use alive in the US. According to Lemen nothing is acceptable other than a full ban. He also said the people who are dying today from asbestos related disease either were exposed years ago to asbestos through their jobs or day to day in the buildings with asbestos still around us. For sure, asbestos use in the US has plummeted since the 1960s. But it is still all over in the buildings around us. Call us today at (313) 437-4530 for a free quote for asbestos removal and testing in your home or building.

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