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Despite industry claims, asbestos imports way up

January 27, 2012

AsbestosAlthough increasingly under fire for its health risks, asbestos consumption in the U.S. has increased dramatically.

In a statement released yesterday, Linda Reinstein of the Asbestos Disease Awareness Organization (ADAO) expressed dismay over the trend.

"I was appalled and shocked to discover today that the 2012 United States Geological Survey (USGS) Mineral Commodity Summaries reported asbestos consumption from January through July of 2011 to be 1,100 metric tons; however, when comparing a previous report from January through July of 2010, asbestos consumption was reported to be 820 metric tons," said Reinstein, co-founder, president & CEO of the ADAO. "This difference of 280 metric tons between January – July, 2010 and January – July, 2011 represents a 34% increase in consumption."

Although the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) declared asbestos a human carcinogen in 1977, occupational and environmental exposure continues in the United States.

"The World Health Organization, International Labour Organization, United States Environmental Protection Agency, and United States Surgeon General all agree – there is no safe level of asbestos exposure," according to an ADAO statement. "The EPA estimates that ’3,000 different types of commercial products contain some amount of asbestos, and their use ranges from paper products and brake linings to floor tiles and thermal insulation.’

"The asbestos industry has argued for years that importation and exposure has been decreasing; however, we have discovered today that their argument simply isn’t true. As the USGS asbestos report cited, ‘Roofing products were estimated to account for about 60% of U.S. consumption; the chloralkali industry about 35%; and unknown applications, 5%.  All the asbestos used in the United States was chrysotile.’"  
More than 10,000 Americans die each year from asbestos-caused diseases such as mesothelioma, asbestosis, and lung cancer.

Reinstein, who lost her husband Alan to mesothelioma, called on Congress and President Obama to immediately prohibit the importation of raw asbestos and asbestos-containing products in order to protect public health.

About Asbestos Disease Awareness Organization

Asbestos Disease Awareness Organization (ADAO) was founded by asbestos victims and their families in 2004. ADAO seeks to give asbestos victims and concerned citizens a united voice to raise public awareness about the dangers of asbestos exposure. ADAO is an independent global organization dedicated to preventing asbestos-related diseases through education, advocacy, and community. For more information, visit www.asbestosdiseaseawareness.org.