It is no secret that asbestos is an incredibly dangerous substance. Asbestos is known to cause mesothelioma, lung cancer, and other life-threatening diseases.
That is why it might come as a shock to learn that the United States has not banned the substance yet.
Asbestos is regulated in the U.S., but not banned
Long ago, asbestos was seen as a magical mineral because of its many properties and versatility. Prior to the 1960s, there were suggestions that asbestos was harmful to human health, but medical research was not conclusive. Finally, in the the 1960s, most medical professionals came to recognize asbestos as dangerous to our health. Relying upon authority granted to it under the Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA) of 1976, the Environmental Protection Agency issued a regulation in 1989 banning:
- The use of asbestos in manufacturing materials;
- The importation of materials containing asbestos;
- The processing of asbestos; or
- The distribution of products containing asbestos.
However, in 1991, a U.S. Court of Appeals overturned some of the EPA’s regulation. The result is that the TSCA, as implemented by the EPA, still limits the use of asbestos (as do Tennessee laws), which is why all agencies must meet specific standards to maintain the health and safety of workers and the public.
These regulations are in place to prevent or reduce exposure to asbestos. They also led to a significant decrease in the number of products containing asbestos over the years, but the use of asbestos is still permitted in the United States, despite the considerable risk it poses.
New bill to ban asbestos passed in House committee
There are various reasons that the U.S. has not yet banned asbestos, including concerns over:
- The price of removing asbestos from products and materials; and
- The cost of finding a substitute substance with the same fire-resistant properties of asbestos.
Asbestos is now banned in approximately 66 countries.
On November 19, federal lawmakers in a House committee approved a bill that would ban asbestos entirely. In remains to be seen what will happen to the bill in the Senate. Previous efforts at banning asbestos entirely have failed.
What could this mean for you?
A ban on asbestos would reduce your risk of asbestos exposure.
A ban could also potentially strengthen the claims of individuals diagnosed with mesothelioma from asbestos exposure during all the years asbestos was not banned, and help them recover the compensation they deserve.