Despite the known health risks of asbestos, the U.S. still imports a significant amount of the mineral fiber for use in some manufacturing processes. While it is not legal to mine asbestos in the U.S., its use is allowed for some specific purposes. Many countries in the world have completely banned asbestos.
Asbestos is a known cause of mesothelioma, lung cancer and other serious and fatal illnesses.
Amending the Toxic Substances Control Act
On November 2, eight senators proposed a bill that would completely ban asbestos use in the United States. Senate Bill 2072 would amend the Toxic Substances Control Act to require the EPA to eliminate human exposure to asbestos within 18 months of becoming law. The EPA could take a number of actions to accomplish this goal, including issuing new regulations on the manufacturing, processes and use of asbestos.
The Toxic Substances Control Act, passed in 1976, regulates new and existing chemicals that may pose a danger to public health. The bill is now before the Committee on Environment and Public Works. It is too early to tell what chance the bill has of passing or if significant amendments will be made.
Limiting asbestos exposure
Regardless of the outcome of the bill, the EPA has already repeatedly stated that there is no safe level of exposure. For nearly a century, the link between asbestos exposure and mesothelioma has been clear. While there may not be a complete ban any time soon, there are ways to hold businesses and developers responsible if they expose workers and others to asbestos. By filing a civil lawsuit, those diagnosed with mesothelioma, or their surviving loved ones, can get needed financial help and continue to discourage anyone from exposing workers and others to asbestos.