As of 2019, asbestos still is not banned in the US, even with the many warnings and concerns of experts, scientists and advisors. It is well known throughout the world of science and medicine that asbestos causes many serious diseases, such as malignant mesothelioma and asbestosis.
The EPA has established certain rules and regulations to help to protect the US public and the environment from the many dangers of asbestos. But their recent rule on the subject makes some of their protections suspect.
The New EPA Rule
In April 2019, a new rule was established by the EPA to regulate asbestos manufacturing and its use in the US. This is an expansion of the 1989 Partial Ban, which added many products to the list of asbestos-containing materials that cannot be imported or produced in the US. As part of the new rule, products that were banned are unable to enter the US without EPA approval now include:
- Roof coatings
- Arch chutes
- Certain gaskets
- Asbestos cement
- Certain types of tape
- Acetylene cylinder filler
- Friction materials
- High grade electrical paper
- Missile liner
- Pipeline wraps
- Roofing felts and more
With the New Rule, all asbestos-containing products need to be approved and reviewed by the agency. The EPA needs to be told 90 days before such products are manufactured, processed or imported. After the review, the EPA will decide whether restrictions or prohibitions should be put in place to decide whether the asbestos product may enter the US market. (mesothelioma.com)
Controversy Over Need for Asbestos Ban by EPA
Responses to the New Rule have been mixed. Stakeholders pleased with the Rule think that it covers many of the products that were left out in the past. Thus there is more protection for American consumers and restricting product that were allowed in the US with total freedom before. Now they must be reviewed and approved by the EPA, and more asbestos-containing products are banned.
But there is still much concern among those stakeholders who want to see a full ban on asbestos in the US. They feel the EPA is leaving the door open to manufacture and use of some asbestos-containing materials, which could allow for even more dangerous uses in the future. Now the products need approval, but there still is a chance they could come back on the US market. This could open up new ways for many companies to produce materials containing asbestos. This could encourage its use even with the many risks.
EPA Experts’ Warnings Ignored
Two internal EPA memos were obtained by the Asbestos Disease Awareness Organization or ADAO and were shared with the New York Times. In those memos, scientists at EPA and its attorneys advised that asbestos needs a complete ban in the US, rather than being restricted. The memos were produced in August 2018, noting that the toxic substance should be banned because of how its ‘extreme harm’ outweighs the possible benefits.
Officials at the EPA have been surprised their many warnings were ignored. This was despite the fact that EPA has been scaling back on other environmental protections. For example, a standard proposal to clean up toxic chemical groundwater pollution was greatly weakened by the EPA recently. A ban also was proposed on dangerous chemical in paint strippers, but this also was scaled back by the agency.
While each of these actions is concerning, the damages and risks of asbestos are so well known, so there is little excuse, many experts believe, to not have the dangerous material totally blocked from the US market, just as it is in more than 60 other countries.
Several advocates of an asbestos ban have been speaking out since the New Rule was released in April. Many argue the rule is essentially toothless and opens the door for many asbestos-containing products to come back on the US market. Experts also express concern that ‘legacy asbestos’ that is common in homes, schools and the workplace is not being addressed sufficiently.
With so many stakeholders disappointed with the New Rule by EPA, more are speaking out about the need for an asbestos ban. Advocates for the ban have been hard at work spreading the word about the dangers of the toxic substance. It is hoped that this controversy will eventually push the US to go entirely asbestos free.
The reason there is so much controversy over a US asbestos ban is the devastating and often lethal illnesses caused by asbestos exposure. One of the deadliest cancers caused by breathing asbestos fibers is pleural mesothelioma.
This terrible cancer of the lung lining is almost exclusively caused by asbestos exposure in manufacturing and industrial settings. The tiny shards of asbestos get stuck in the delicate lung lining. Over the years, those shards of asbestos can alter the DNA in some workers, leading to the development of mesothelioma.
Most mesothelioma victims are over 50 and worked in an industrial, manufacturing or shipping profession. The latency period for developing the disease can be as long as 50 years.
One of the major problems with mesothelioma is that people are unaware of the seriousness of their condition until serious symptoms develop – typically chest pain and difficulty breathing that occur in Stage 3 of the disease. By that point, the cancer has usually spread to other areas such as the lymph system.
If you were ever exposed to asbestos at work, it is important to have your health checked annually by a doctor familiar with asbestos-related diseases. If you are diagnosed with mesothelioma, it is recommended to consult with a skilled and experienced mesothelioma attorney in your area.
- EPA’s New Rule Shows Resistance to Need for an Asbestos Ban. (2019). Retrieved from https://www.mesothelioma.com/blog/epas-new-rule-shows-resistance-to-the-need-for-an-asbestos-ban.htm