Asbestos Products Still in Use in the U.S.
You may recall the Environmental Protection Agency’s investigation of asbestos products in the 1970s and 1980s and believe that asbestos has been completely banned. Unfortunately, this isn’t at all the case. In fact, there are hundreds of products containing asbestos in use every day in the United States.
Attempts to Ban Products Containing Asbestos Not Successful
The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) and the EPA both carefully studied asbestos products and their potential to cause harm for years. The conclusion of both agencies was that there was no good reason to keep using asbestos in manufacturing. In 1989 the EPA went so far as to propose a complete phase-out and eventual ban of nearly all products containing asbestos due to the high risk of diseases such as mesothelioma, asbestosis and lung cancer that resulted from exposure.
The EPA’s proposed ban should have been a resounding victory in the struggle against the use of asbestos products – but manufacturers and asbestos associations sued to stop the regulation. In the Fifth Circuit Court, the case of Corrosion Proof Fittings vs. the EPA stands as one of the greatest losses in environmental and health safety regulatory history. The EPA went on to ban the use of asbestos in products ranging from children’s crayons to hair dryers, but the bans fell far short of their original intent to completely eliminate the use of asbestos and products containing the fibrous minerals.
Asbestos Products and Alternatives
Today, the Consumer Products Safety Commission and the EPA attempt to regulate the use of asbestos in products through strict regulation of how, when and why the products are used. Strict regulation on the replacement and removal of products containing asbestos has also been enacted.
Asbestos Primarily Used in Construction
Today asbestos containing products are most often used in construction of buildings and homes. Various construction materials such as vinyl flooring, roofing materials, caulking, spackling compounds and HVAC duct installation are all asbestos containing products. Once they are put in place properly, the risks are minimal; however any time they are disturbed (such as during remodeling) they become a powerful source of asbestos contaminants that are released into the air in particles too small to see.
The asbestos removal industry has sprung up in answer to this continuing problem, since tens of millions of homes today contain insulation, asbestos siding, shingles and other products that have to be disposed of properly when remodeling is done. Unfortunately, you probably don't realize that products such as insulation, flooring and roofing may be hazardous to your health when disturbed. For this reason it is absolutely essential that if you are considering doing work on your house be sure to do an asbestos test to see if the material in question contains asbestos products. Once the damage from breathing in asbestos is done, it can’t be reversed.
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