Thirty years ago the EPA tried and failed, to ban asbestos. Since then, over a million Americans have died from asbestos-caused diseases. Despite that, the EPA under Trump is trying to keep asbestos, a deadly carcinogen, legal.
In 1989 the EPA spent ten million dollars producing a 100,000-page administrative record. This record was proving that even one exposure to asbestos can cause cancer and other deadly diseases. In July 12th of that year, under George H. W. Bush, the EPA declared it would ban essentially all asbestos products. The EPA was planning on doing this with their authority with the Toxic Substances Control Act. This was met with quick action against them by businesses that used asbestos and by chemical industry trade groups. These groups filed a lawsuit against the EPA saying a complete ban would not be cost-effective. They also claimed that the asbestos alternatives are neither as safe nor as effective as asbestos. In 1991 the EPA lost. This ended up hindering efforts from the EPA to ban any chemical. There are estimates that asbestos-caused diseases kill about 15,000 Americans a year. Last year, though, the number was very different – an estimated 40,000 Americans a year and 255,000 people worldwide a year. In 2016, under President Obama, after more than a decade of work, the TSCA law was revamped. This renewed the ability of the EPA to ban asbestos. But before the EPA was able to take advantage of this, Trump became president. With him, Andrew Wheeler became the administrator of the EPA. Now the Trump EPA is working on finding asbestos is safe to prove it should remain legal. The new use rule that became effective in June allows manufacturers to use asbestos in its abandoned uses if approved by the EPA. Even scarier, there is proof that top political appointees of the EPA were ignoring calls from lawyers and others about outright bans being necessary. In the US, the main importer of raw asbestos is the Chlor-alkali industry. It is used in making chlorine and other chemicals. In 2018, they imported an estimated 750 tons of raw asbestos. It is easy to see that the Chlor-alkali industry is the main problem, the main asbestos use that needs to be stopped. Not all people under Trump are in with the plan to keep asbestos legal, though. Some members of Congress are attempting to stop this move. Senator Jeff Merkley (D-Ore.) as well as Representatives Elissa Slotkin (D-Mich.), Suzanne Bonamici (D-Ore.) and Frank Pallone (D-N.J.) support a legislation which would, if passed, ban all the importation, manufacture, and distribution of all forms of asbestos within one year of the legislation’s passing. This legislation is called the Alan Reinstein Ban Asbestos Now Act. it would require the EPA, Department of Health and Human Services, and the Labor Department to conduct a report assessing the status and extent of exposure of asbestos in all buildings. Does Linda Reinstein ask who would argue that asbestos should remain legal? The answer sadly is two of them are the people in the position to ban (or not ban) asbestos. Linda is the wife of Alan Reinstein whom the bill is named after. He died in 2006 from mesothelioma, which is incurable cancer caused almost solely by asbestos exposure. For over 50 years asbestos has been known as a killer. Millions of deaths have been caused by the deadly carcinogen. Banning it should be simple. But these are not normal times, with Trump administration constantly making decisions that directly put Americans’ health at risk. For now, there is not much we can do as far as asbestos being banned goes. But what can be done may save your life. Remove asbestos, a very deadly carcinogen, from your home or building. Call us today at (313) 437-4530 for a free quote or for asbestos removal and testing.