U.S. Asbestos Use, Imports Continue, Despite Cancer Risk

Hundreds of thousands of lawsuits have been filed against the manufacturers of asbestos and asbestos products in U.S. courts over the past several decades, citing extensive scientific research that links asbestos exposure to mesothelioma, lung cancer, asbestosis, and other devastating diseases. Since its inception in 1991, the asbestos products liability litigation has resulted in billions of dollars in compensation for victims and their families, and lawsuits continue to be filed to this day, making it one of the largest and longest-running mass torts in U.S. history. Still, U.S. corporations continue to import asbestos, and to this day, the carcinogenic mineral is used in many consumer and household products, without warnings that it may cause cancer. If you or someone you love developed mesothelioma or another type of asbestos-related disease following exposure to the mineral, even if the diagnosis came years or decades after the exposure, you may be entitled to financial compensation for your injuries. Contact Consumer Safety Watch today for legal help.

Where is Asbestos Still Used?

Asbestos is a naturally occurring mineral highly valued for its tensile strength and resistance to heat and corrosion. Because of these qualities, asbestos was widely used in many industries, including building and construction, throughout much of the 20th century, with asbestos mining peaking in the 1960s and 1970s. At that time, asbestos could be found in everything from pipe insulation to floor tiles, vehicle brakes and clutch pads, textiles, paints, adhesives, and more. In the 1980s, the EPA banned all new uses of asbestos, but uses developed prior to the ban were still permitted. The ban on the manufacture, distribution, and importation of asbestos was eventually overturned, and today, asbestos can be found in dozens of products, from car parts to construction materials. According to the U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), heavy exposures to asbestos today typically occur in the construction industry, during the removal of asbestos materials during repairs, renovation, or demolition, and in the manufacture of asbestos products. 

Health Risks Associated with Asbestos Exposure

Most people know by now that asbestos, and therefore asbestos-containing products, are inherently dangerous and can increase a person’s risk of developing a host of potentially life-threatening diseases, including mesothelioma, lung cancer, and other types of cancer. Evidence of a link between asbestos exposure and certain types of cancer emerged as early as the 1920s, and decades worth of research has corroborated those early cancer findings. Because asbestos is known to cause cancer, many people assume asbestos has been banned in the U.S., due in large part to growing public awareness about the toxic nature of asbestos and a history of attempting to restrict its use. Yet, in the first three months of 2022 alone, 114 metric tons of raw chrysotile asbestos – the most commonly used form of asbestos – were imported into the U.S., a number that surpasses the 100 metric tons that were imported during all of 2021. 

The driving force behind the continued import of asbestos into the U.S. is the chlor-alkali industry, which uses asbestos diaphragms to make chlorine. Earlier this year, the EPA proposed a rule that would require comprehensive reporting on asbestos and mandates that manufacturers must report asbestos use and exposure information to the agency. Unsurprisingly, those in the chlor-alkali industry disputed the move, arguing that it could have “unintended consequences,” such as possibly threatening the supply of chlorine, which is used to disinfect drinking water. Advocates of the EPA’s proposed rule contend that the recent uptick in asbestos imports poses an unmistakable threat to public health and that the government has delayed cracking down on asbestos long enough. 

Contact Consumer Safety Watch Today

The health hazards associated with asbestos are well recognized. In fact, asbestos exposure is the only known cause of mesothelioma, a fatal cancer of the membrane lining the lungs or stomach. As OSHA notes, “Epidemiologic evidence has increasingly shown that all asbestos fiber types, including the most commonly used form of asbestos, chrysotile, causes mesothelioma in humans.” Unfortunately, because mesothelioma has a latency period of up to 50 years – meaning the first symptoms of the disease may not appear until decades after the initial exposure – people who were exposed to asbestos in the 1970s and 1980s or later may not even have a diagnosis yet. If you or a loved one were exposed to asbestos and have been diagnosed with mesothelioma or another serious asbestos-related disease, do not hesitate to speak to an asbestos cancer attorney about your legal options. You may have grounds to file an asbestos lawsuit against the manufacturing company, in order to pursue damages for medical bills, lost wages, and more.

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