Many of us are happy to finally put 2020 in our rearview mirrors. But as we wave goodbye, farewell and good riddance to this chaotic year, are there any smaller stories we may have overlooked?
In a year full of news and controversy, it would be easy to overlook many quieter and smaller items. You may have missed some of the more illuminating stories about asbestos and mesothelioma. In case you missed them, here are the top five mesothelioma and asbestos stories from 2020.
- The EPA explores the dangers of ongoing asbestos use
Most first-world nations have banned asbestos. However, the United States has not yet issued a full ban. The last government regulations came in April of 2019 with the EPA’s Final Rule. These rules still make exceptions for certain industrial uses, and a draft report explored the dangers linked to these exceptions. The report found those uses continue to expose workers to unsafe levels of asbestos.
- A Canadian town struggles with its legacy of asbestos
In September, we reported on the city of Asbestos, Quebec. This city of approximately 7,000 had taken its name back when asbestos was considered a miracle fiber and the city was home to a huge asbestos mine. At one point, the mine was the largest in the world. But as people learned more about the dangers of asbestos, Canada joined the nations banning its production and use. The mine shut down, and the city’s residents grappled with the choice of a new name.
- When asbestos was magic
People have mined and used asbestos far longer than we’ve understood the risks. Indeed, there was a time when nobility considered asbestos to be almost “magical.” This led to the rise of con artists who used the material to create false relics. Many of these found their way into museums, meaning that museum staff could find themselves facing a surprising risk of asbestos exposure.
- The city of Asbestos changes its name
A little more than a month after we looked at the choices before the city of Asbestos, we shared its new name. Like many of us, the city’s residents hoped they could make changes to move forward from the harm asbestos had caused. They took their steps forward by changing their city’s name from Asbestos to Val-des-Sources, which is French for “valley of the springs.” Residents hope the change may spur future business and investment, especially after some outsiders had refused to accept business cards or mail that bore the town’s former name.
- The surprising connection between pianos and asbestos
Few people are still surprised to learn about asbestos in old building materials, insulation, brakes and other industrial products. But there are plenty of other, far more surprising ways that asbestos may yet enter our lives. There’s been a lot of news about traces of asbestos in talc products, but the top story of 2020 was about an even more unlikely source—pianos. Pianos are made all over the world. This means their manufacturers may follow different standards for production and safety, and some appear to use parts that contain asbestos. In January, we looked at these parts and the ways to get your piano tested.