The mining of asbestos is against the law in the United States because it is linked to severe health hazards such as mesothelioma/asbestos-related illness. However, as this blog recently reported, use of this hazardous substance still occurs in the nation thanks to an ongoing importation of raw asbestos. According to the United States Geological Survey (USGS), the chlor-alkali, or chlorine industry, uses over 90 percent of the asbestos imported into the country.
The chlor-alkali industry is a vital part of America and produces three main products: chlorine, caustic soda and hydrogen. Chlorine has a particularly high value as it is used in “93% of American pharmaceuticals” and countless other products. Caustic soda, which is an alkali, is a common ingredient used by the food industry and in cleaning and other household products. Finally, hydrogen is used to make hydrogen peroxide, ammonia and other products.
The above information about the chlor-alkali industry shows how important it is to the nation as a whole. It is the use of asbestos during the manufacturing process that presents the most danger. The industry says that its use of asbestos presents no risk because of a strict wet-processing procedure. Many health advocates disagree with these protests, citing statements by OSHA (Occupational Safety and Health Administration) that indicate no safe level of asbestos exposure exists.
Further, the importation of asbestos means that it must be transported through the nation to chemical processing facilities. A transportation accident could lead to spillage and contamination. The substance must also be stored once it reaches its destination. If stored improperly, imported asbestos could increase the risk of exposure to workers and even to the public.
Since asbestos is a widely known health hazard, it is up to the companies who use the substance to minimize the risk of exposure and illness. This means that anyone who contracts mesothelioma or asbestos-related illnesses because of the industry’s usage can hold these companies responsible in a legal action. This is so in the state of Illinois and in the rest of the country. Seek a legal opinion right away if you or a loved one has been sickened by asbestos exposure.
Source: Science Blogs, The Pump Handle, “Dangerous chemicals, dangerous technology – Industry’s persistent push to protect asbestos,” Elizabeth Grossman, accessed Oct. 19, 2017