When Was Asbestos Banned?
Most people know that asbestos is dangerous and that breathing it in is bad. But beyond that, most common knowledge about the toxic substance is limited. Which is why many still ask, when was asbestos banned?
To make things worse, proponents of asbestos spread untruths to make asbestos seem benign when, in fact, the main allure is that it’s cheap so its use increases corporate profits.
In part one of our 12 part campaign to expose asbestos myths, we’ll look at the facts about whether or not asbestos has been banned.
Myth – Asbestos has been banned and is no longer a health concern.
Fact – Asbestos is still imported into the US for use in products made here and products containing asbestos are still imported every day. More than two million pounds of asbestos were imported in 2012 and there are no signs of this consumptions decreasing.
Fact – Asbestos is banned in most other developed countries. The US is one of the few industrialized nations to not ban asbestos in consumer, construction and industrial products. More than 50 nations have banned asbestos including Japan and most of the European Union nations.
Fact – Asbestos was banned by the EPA in 1989 and a plan was made to completely phase out manufacture and use of the toxic substance. This was not a decision lightly made by the EPA, but was the result of extensive research over 10 years and intended to protect both workers and consumers.
Fact – Asbestos in auto brakes has been banned in Washington State but most other states have no such restrictions. Some states have asbestos-related statutes intended to protect workers, but most other states have only made laws governing asbestos litigation, not asbestos dangers or exposure.
Fact – Asbestos has been used since Roman times and has been causing health problems since then. Asbestos mining and usage boomed beginning in the 1920s. More than 100,000 people die from asbestos-related diseases each year and millions have died over the years.
Fact – Asbestos continued to be heavily used through the mid to late 1980s. It was used in construction materials, fire proofing, insulation and even in many consumer goods including household appliances and items that were in most homes.
Fact – Asbestos industry interests sued the EPA in a major landmark lawsuit Corrosion Proof Fitting v Environmental Protection Agency. The case asserted that the EPA didn’t use proper investigation methods and a host of other technicalities to fight back against the ban.
Fact – Asbestos is still allowed in consumer products in certain amounts although the mining and manufacture of asbestos products doesn’t take place in the United States anymore. There are also laws in place related to asbestos notification, asbestos in schools and other government facilities.
Fact – Asbestos consumption may have dropped, despite the lack of a ban, but the deaths continue. According to The World Health Organization, deaths from asbestos are actually on the rise and roughly one-third of work-related cancer is attributable to asbestos exposure.
Fact – Asbestos consumption in the US is now fueled by mining and processing in other countries. Now that Canada has stopped mining asbestos, we import primarily from Brazil. This means that we are contributing to the poor health of workers around the world.
Mesothelioma is a terrible disease and it continues to take lives every day and nearly all instances are tied to asbestos exposure, either direct or second-hand. Asbestos is not safe in any quantity and exposure need not be ongoing or at a high level to be toxic.