Earlier this year, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reported more than 45,000 people have died in the United States alone from malignant mesothelioma from 1999 to 2015. Even more alarming was the fact young people continued to be exposed despite increased regulations limiting how and where asbestos can be used.
In the report, the CDC concluded the continued exposure of people 55 and older “might result from occupational exposure to asbestos fibers during maintenance activities, demolition and remediation of existing asbestos in structures, installations, and buildings if controls are insufficient to protect workers.”
Despite evidence that existing asbestos is continuing to create health problems for Americans, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is reneging on promises to evaluate some of the most dangerous chemicals used by the public, including millions of tons of asbestos found in consumer products, buildings, vehicles, etc.
“Instead of following President Barack Obama’s proposal to look at chemicals already in widespread use that result in some of the most common exposures, the new administration wants to limit the review to products still being manufactured and entering the marketplace,” the Associated Press reports. “For asbestos, that means gauging the risks from just a few hundred tons of the material imported annually while excluding almost all of the estimated 8.9 million tons of asbestos-containing products that the U.S. Geological Survey said entered the marketplace between 1970 and 2016.”
Contrary to popular belief, asbestos is still legal in the United States. The EPA website contains a list of products containing asbestos that are not banned: pipeline wrap, clothing, brake blocks, gaskets, cement pipe and roof coatings. While the review would include those asbestos products that are still being manufactured, it would not include any information on asbestos-containing products that are no longer made but are still in use.
By not including any preexisting materials in new handling or disposal rules, the hope of a complete asbestos ban, as is currently underway in Canada, is almost non-existent, and people will continue to die from completely preventable asbestos-related diseases, including lung cancer and mesothelioma.
Originally, the EPA touted the evaluation as the delivery on “a promise to better protect public health and the environment,” but unfortunately this backtracking has left that promise empty. The chemical industry has shown it continues to place profit over people’s health, and the government continues to fail to truly protect its citizen from asbestos exposure.
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For more information about asbestos-related diseases such as mesothelioma, and how they may be linked to product liability claims, contact Rhon Jones, head of Beasley Allen’s Toxic Torts section, at 800-898-2034 or Rhon.Jones@beasleyallen.com.
Sources: The Associated Press, EPA, CDC