|See related story on Mesothelioma Awareness Day: Asbestos ban sought by mesothelioma activists|
Back when Nixon was in office, asbestos was one of the first carcinogens regulated under the Clean Air Act of 1973. In 1989, President George H.W. Bush largely banned use of asbestos in the United States.
The use of asbestos is completely banned in over 60 countries, including Brazil, where 95% of the original asbestos used in the United States was sourced. Today, asbestos is only heavily restricted in the United States, but has never been formally banned. Asbestos is no longer used in common practices, with regulations allowing only 1% of asbestos to be used in various materials. Current political banter leaves many frightened by the reintroduction of this material in applications already deemed high risk. For many years asbestos has been proven a dangerous threat’
This past June (2018), the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) enacted the Significant New Use Rule (SNUR), which allows the government to evaluate asbestos use on a case-by-case basis. Around the same time, the EPA also released a new framework for how it evaluates chemical risk. The disregard for this decision is alarming for those informed. Modern use of asbestos creates fear and uncertainty among critics of the Trump administration and medical advocates alike.
Is there any logical reasoning behind the reintroduction? Any justification for using asbestos is weak.
- Asbestos has unsurpassed fireproofing and chemical resistance properties. In the 1930s the popularity of this miracle mineral increased the strength and safety of common structures like homes, schools and public buildings.
- Asbestos is naturally abundant, making the cost of this resource competitive. The cost of asbestos building materials is seen to be stronger and less expensive when compared to safer engineered materials.
There are safe and proper alternatives. The risk this threat poses on the future health of American people cannot be justified.
Either direct or indirect exposure to this carcinogen is linked to lung diseases like lung cancer, asbestosis as well as the rare but often fatal mesothelioma. On average, about 2,500 mesothelioma-related deaths occur in the U.S. each year. Despite these statistics, the EPA has ignored the science, the history, and the number of deaths asbestos has caused throughout the nation. Trusted organizations including the World Health Organization and the Office of the U.S. Surgeon General have spoken out to urge against the modern use of asbestos in any regard.
Exposure to asbestos often goes without notice because symptoms don’t become present for 10-50 years following exposure; the use of this material is irresponsible toward the wellbeing of society. This reintroduction of asbestos will cause harmful ripples in our country, including many threats to future generations.
There is a seemingly global consensus that there is no safe level of asbestos exposure or controlled use of asbestos. So why would the U.S. ignore these facts?