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Asbestos imports increase by 30 percent

Imports of asbestos into the United States have been on the rise in the last three years following several years of significant declines, according to new data from the United States Geological Survey (USGS). It is unclear why or where the dangerous asbestos products are being used, but the report has angered many mesothelioma patient advocates who are working to eliminate asbestos imports entirely.

According to the USGS, asbestos imports increased from 1,040 metric tons in 2010 to 1,100 metric tons in 2011. In sum, imports of asbestos products have increased by 34 percent in the last three years following a significant decline from 2008 to 2009. The USGS attributes the increase in imports to an rise in 'manufacturing needs' in Madison County and throughout the U.S.

Asbestos has not been mined in the United States since 2002, but it has continually been imported from countries both near and far. More than 90 percent of the asbestos used in the U.S. comes from Canada, and the remaining ten percent is imported from Zimbabwe and various other countries throughout the world.

Following the release of the USGS report, several anti-asbestos activists spoke out against asbestos imports. In a statement posted on the Asbestos Disease Awareness Organization website, the organization said that they would now ask federal lawmakers to "immediately prohibit the importation of raw asbestos and asbestos-containing products from crossing our borders to protect public health," the statement said. "Nothing can bring...the hundreds of thousands of victims back to life, but we can begin by aggressively preventing exposure thus eliminating deadly diseases."

Despite significant federal regulation, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency estimates that approximately 3,000 different commercial products contain asbestos in some form. It is also estimated that about 2,500 Americans succumb to mesothelioma or other asbestos-related illnesses every year.

Source: Surviving Mesothelioma, "Mesothelioma Alert: Asbestos Imports Rising," Feb. 2, 2012

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