Could the U.S. Move Toward a Total Ban on Asbestos?

In July a new use rule for asbestos from the EPA became effective. The rule was designed to strengthen the protection of public health. But some claim that the rule does nothing to lobby the use of asbestos. At worse, it strengthens it.
Two government officials argue against the rule having done anything. The biggest asbestos user in the U.S. is the Chlor-alkali industry. The Chlor-alkali industry makes chlorine and other chemicals. In the process of making chlorine, asbestos is used. That, though, is not the case everywhere. In many of the 60 plus countries that have already banned asbestos, different substances are used for making chlorine. The new use rule does allow for chlorine producing to continue going strong. Some wonder if the U.S. is soon to have a full ban on asbestos. The answer is perhaps a ban is in fact in sight. On March 7th, 2019, the Alan Reinstein Ban Asbestos Now Act of 2019 was introduced. This would amend the Toxic Substances Control Act (or TSCA) which would in turn ban all manufacture, processing, and distribution of asbestos in all forms. The TSCA was originally passed so that the EPA could ban asbestos and other harmful substances. This act would amend this law such that it effectively bans asbestos. Alan Reinstein whom the “Ban Asbestos Now” act is named after died from mesothelioma in 2006. His widow, Linda Reinstein, is optimistic about the bill passing. It has received bipartisan support. Not only would this bill, if passed, ban asbestos, it would also require the Labor Department, the Department of Health and Human Services, and the EPA to conduct a report assessing asbestos in all buildings and the extent of exposure and how much danger to human health is caused by it. This bill sounds great and promising, but it is not the first time America has attempted to ban asbestos. In 1989 the EPA announced its plans to ban asbestos. But it ended up failing. But not immediately. First, they spent 10 years and ten million dollars to write up a 100,000-page record that detailed evidence to prove that a single exposure to asbestos could cause cancer. The EPA was going to use its authority under the TSCA to ban asbestos. But this was met with powerful resistance from companies that used asbestos and trade groups that used chemicals. Together, the companies and the trade groups filed a lawsuit. They claimed a ban would be too costly. They also claimed that the alternatives for asbestos were neither as safe nor as effective as asbestos. In 1991, the Fifth Court of Appeals ruled against the EPA, and the EPA lost. Because of this, the EPA has had a hard time banning any chemical. Since that bill was first announced, more than a million Americans have died from asbestos-related diseases. And that’s not all. It is estimated that yearly 15,000 Americans die from asbestos-related diseases. Asbestos is still very much alive in America. In 2018 the Chlor-alkali industry imported almost 750 metric tons of raw asbestos. Where from? Russia, which, as you can read about here, is the main producer of asbestos for the world. Asbestos is a very big problem. One reason is it causes deadly diseases. Also, it is in many homes and therefore many people are constantly exposed to it. What can you do? Call us today at (313) 437-4530 for a free quote for asbestos testing and removal.

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