Over forty years have passed since the International Agency for Research on Cancer declared asbestos to be a human carcinogen. Though the mineral has been depended on for much of recorded human history, its recognized threat to the health and safety of people is what has enabled a worldwide movement of inhibiting any use of it. Although, the 16th annual global asbestos awareness conference is postponed for now, commitment to the awareness and prevention of asbestos exposure remains an ultimate goal for an independent and non-profit organization like Asbestos Disease Awareness Organization (ADAO), and to much of the world. And while the ADAO encourages policy responsiveness through their work, progress is hindered by politically-motivated entities like the current administration’s dramatically re-tooled Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).
What is Asbestos?
“Asbestos” is a general term that refers to six naturally occurring fibrous and hazardous minerals. The heat resistant and fire-retardant properties of asbestos have for decades reinforced its use in numerous industrial settings, commercial products, and naval ships. In turn, the risk of exposure is frequently common in individuals with occupations in construction, agriculture, and the military. As the mineral becomes disrupted into microscopic fibers and later inhaled, it causes inflammation that can eventually develop into tumors. The health risks include mesothelioma, lung cancer, and asbestosis, all of which contribute to 40,000 American deaths annually.
Although the EPA has previously asserted that there is no safe level of asbestos exposure, the minerals have not been completely banned in the United States. In fact, recent policy under the supervision of the current administration has enabled asbestos products to be incorporated into products with increased approval once more.
The EPA’s New Ruling
In June of 2019, the EPA issued a “Significant New Use Rule” (“SUNR”) on asbestos. The stipulative rule stems from the fact that in 1991, the U.S. Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals overturned what was known as the “Asbestos Ban and Phaseout Rule of 1989.” The Court ruled that not all uses of asbestos are banned; some simply remain unregulated. While the EPA will not allow previously banned asbestos substances back on the market, it will provide an evaluated framework for the use of currently unregulated asbestos. Under the rule, if a company seeks to use an unregulated substance, it will have to seek EPA review and approval. Specifically, the SNUR allows companies to use deadly substances, including asbestos, without care as to how they will endanger those who contact them indirectly.
While the steps taken by the current EPA seem sound and precautionary, they completely contradict their past policies on asbestos. Additionally, the EPA published document Problem Formulation of the Risk Evaluation for Asbestos, which evaluates the framework and the health risks of unregulated asbestos, will not take into account existing information despite the significant body of work done on the uses of asbestos. This proves the reality that the agency is actively limiting studies that can effectively assess the risk of unregulated asbestos.
Global Asbestos Awareness
While asbestos exposure may not seem applicable to ordinary individuals, it is imperative to recognize that rulings like the EPA’s affect all individuals, regardless of occupation. Furthermore, the common materials that are still allowed to incorporate asbestos include pipes, tiles, flooring, adhesives, paints, and roofing products. Global Asbestos Awareness Week helps not only to understand the vigilance needed to live our lives without exposure to asbestos, but how to proceed with it if we are. Waters Kraus & Paul believes that justice is virtue for all, and as such works to provide the effective council found in asbestos lawyers for those seeking it.
How we Help Victims of Asbestos Exposure
Our mesothelioma law firm has represented individuals like you affected by asbestos exposure for over 20 years, aggressively fighting the corporate giants responsible for their dangerous products. If you or a loved one were exposed to asbestos or suffer from a disease caused by asbestos like mesothelioma, we can help.
See one of our client’s reflecting on his experience with mesothelioma.