The EPA Implements Historic Ban on Asbestos to Protect Public Health

The Biden Administration has taken a monumental step in safeguarding public health by finalizing a rule that bans the use of chrysotile asbestos in the United States. This marks a historic milestone in the fight against asbestos, a deadly carcinogen that poses significant risks to human health. The rule, issued by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) on March 18, 2024, is the first to be finalized under the 2016 changes to the Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA) and aligns with President Joe Biden’s ambitious “Cancer Moonshot” program, which aims to eradicate cancer in the country.

Understanding the Dangers of Asbestos

Asbestos is a naturally occurring mineral fiber found in rock and soil. Due to its natural properties, it was widely used in various products and industries in the U.S., including insulation and fire retardants. However, research indicates that prolonged exposure to asbestos can lead to severe health conditions, such as lung cancer, mesothelioma, ovarian cancer, colorectal cancer, and laryngeal cancer. Each year, asbestos is responsible for over 40,000 cancer-related deaths in the United States alone.

The Path to Banning Asbestos in the U.S.

Efforts to ban asbestos in the U.S. have been ongoing for several decades. In the 1980s, federal lawmakers made initial attempts to prohibit the substance. However, these efforts were largely overturned in 1991, resulting in inadequate protections for the public. It wasn’t until 2016, with the reauthorization of the TSCA, that the EPA gained the authority to reevaluate the risks associated with asbestos and consider a comprehensive ban.

The EPA’s Rule and Its Implications

The EPA’s newly finalized rule specifically targets chrysotile asbestos, also known as “white asbestos,” which is the only form of asbestos currently used or imported into the United States. Chrysotile asbestos is primarily utilized in the chlor-alkali industry for manufacturing chlorine and sodium hydroxide. It is also present in automotive brake blocks, aftermarket automotive brakes/linings, and other vehicle friction products.

The ban on chrysotile asbestos encompasses the prohibition of its manufacture, import, processing, distribution in commerce, and commercial use for ongoing purposes. This rule aims to reduce the risk of asbestos exposure and subsequently lower the incidence of asbestos-related diseases in the U.S. population.

Global Asbestos Ban

While the United States has taken a significant step forward in banning chrysotile asbestos with this new rule, it is worth noting that over 70 countries have already implemented complete bans on asbestos. Countries such as Russia, China, Brazil, Kazakhstan, and India have been major producers and consumers of asbestos. The global effort to eliminate asbestos use is crucial to protecting the health and well-being of people worldwide.

Protecting Public Health and Promoting Environmental Justice

The EPA’s ban on asbestos aligns with President Biden’s vision of achieving environmental justice and safeguarding public health. By reducing exposure to toxic chemicals like asbestos, the administration aims to ensure clean air, clean water, and healthy communities for all Americans.

Furthermore, the ban on asbestos is a significant step forward in the realm of product liability and consumer protection. It holds manufacturers and industries accountable for producing and utilizing hazardous materials. Victims of asbestos exposure and asbestos-related diseases now have a stronger foundation for pursuing legal action and seeking compensation for their suffering.

The Fight Against Asbestos-Related Diseases

The EPA’s comprehensive ban on chrysotile asbestos represents a major milestone in the fight against asbestos-related diseases across the U.S. By eliminating the use of this dangerous carcinogen, the Biden Administration and the EPA aim to better protect public health and reduce the incidence of asbestos-related cancers. However, it is crucial to remain vigilant and continue efforts to raise awareness about the risks of asbestos exposure and advocate for stricter regulations globally.

Find Out How We Can Help

We know that asbestos exposure can increase a person’s risk of developing potentially life-threatening diseases. There are approximately 3,000 new mesothelioma diagnoses and 2,500 mesothelioma deaths every year in the United States, and the most common risk factor for mesothelioma is asbestos exposure. If you or someone you love has been diagnosed with mesothelioma, lung cancer, or another serious illness related to asbestos exposure, don’t hesitate to speak to an experienced asbestos exposure attorney about your legal options. Call Consumer Safety Watch today to learn how we can help.

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