Asbestos Shocker – Imports of Deadly Toxin to the US
Although it’s well known by now that asbestos is dangerous and causes an array of serious illnesses, the US government refuses to ban it and corporations continue to use it. Because asbestos hasn’t been mined in the US since 2002, manufacturers and other businesses have turned to imports to meet their needs. Between 2010 and 2012, imports increased from 1,040 metric tons to 1,060 although this showed a slight decrease from 2011 levels.
This may not seem like a huge leap, but the very fact that it’s still being used is troublesome in itself. What’s interesting also is that the price per ton of asbestos in 2010 averaged $786 but had climbed to $1,790 in 2012. With the price more than doubling and the known dangers, we have to ask why corporations are paying more than ever to risk the health of both workers and consumers.
Nearly 60% of the asbestos imported was used by the chloralkali industry to produce chlorine and caustic soda, both heavily used in many industrial cleaners and other products. And roughly 40% was used for roofing products. Something else interesting to note is that it may not be any sort of conscientious choice to decrease their consumption of asbestos, but a lack of raw materials.
After mining in the US halted over a decade ago, imports primarily came from Canada. But when Canada cut off mining activities, no more asbestos could be bought from their usual source. American importers had to find a new source for their dangerous substance and turned to Brazil. This also explains the price increase. Brazil mines a higher value type of the asbestos chrysotile.
And even if sources from Brazil dry up, US importers still have other options to get their asbestos. China, Kazakhstan and Russia all mine asbestos with Russia being the largest of these sources, mining a million metric tons of asbestos a year. But why do corporations continue to force the asbestos issue when they know the health risks?
Asbestos isn’t the only raw materials that offers heat resistance. In fact, there are a number of much safer substitutes that offer fire safety protection without putting worker and consumer health at risk. These include:
- Polyurethane foam
- Cellulose, glass, steel, carbon or ceramic fibers
- Flour fillers
- Thermoset plastic flour
- Amorphous silica fabric
- Calcium silicate
- Polyethylene, polypropylene, and polytetrafluoroethylene
Asbestos is a known carcinogen and is the cause for nearly all cases of mesothelioma but can also cause asbestosis, lung cancer and a host of other illnesses. Yet asbestos is still used in thousands of commercial products and causes thousands of deaths each year, with thousands more to come. Even with improved awareness and handling procedures, the continued use of asbestos makes it likely that there will be ongoing health impacts that devastate far too many families.
If your family has been impacted by mesothelioma, contact the experts at Bergman Draper Oslund to see how we can help. We work solely for mesothelioma victims and their families and have won more than $700 million in settlements for those suffering from mesothelioma cancer.
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