Is Asbestos Banned In The United States?

Asbestos refers to a group of six, needle-like minerals that are naturally occurring and known to have adverse health effects on our body. It is a useful component in materials that are used in insulation and other industrial applications. However, studies have shown that asbestos exposure can actually lead to mesothelioma, which is a type of cancer which can affect the lungs and abdomen, as well as a variety of other health problems. Despite all these known facts, asbestos is not banned in the United States. That is why it is wise to carry out asbestos inspection and mediation if you suspect that there are asbestos-containing materials in your home. We understand this and provide the best asbestos testing services in the country here at Iris Environmental Laboratories.

Government Efforts to Reduce Asbestos Exposure

From household products to industrial materials and applications, asbestos is something that can be very useful despite its harmful properties. Miners and factory workers in the past were unknowingly bring home the asbestos fibers on their clothing and this affected their health in a negative manner. In the 1970s, the United States’ Environment Protection Agency (EPA) passed the Clean Air Act, which banned spray-on asbestos products that were used for fireproofing and insulation. The EPA also tries to ban asbestos to stop the importation and sales of such products.

This was going well until 1991, when lobbyists for the asbestos industry reversed the ban in a lawsuit. This led to the removal of the ban and ultimately resulting in the EPA failing to stop asbestos usage in the United States. However, despite the ban, the EPA managed to maintain a ban on products such as corrugated paper, specialty paper and flooring felt which contained dangerous asbestos fibers.

Why did the Ban Fail?

From the perspective of the supporters of the asbestos industry and its lobbyists, it was much easier to impose asbestos regulation as opposed to a complete ban. Although common sense would tell us that a complete ban would save countless more lives than a regulation, congress opposed the EPA on this matter and the lifted the ban.

The EPA had claimed that a ban on asbestos would lead to the creation of economical substitutes to the product, but they could not prove to congress that this was the “least burdensome” method. In fact, the petitioners counterclaimed with their opinion that many of these asbestos-containing substitutes were as harmful and dangerous.

The court had actually required that the EPA show the economical impacts of banning asbestos and lifting the ban. However, it was hard to quantify many aspects of the ban in terms of money. For example, the EPA could not quantify the lives that could potentially be saved after 2000.

What You Can Do

Other than hiring our professionals to conduct testing and inspection, you can do more to protect yourself and others from this dangerous product. You can start by simply writing to officials to urge them to push for a ban in asbestos-containing products and also to channel more funds for mesothelioma research. Now that people are starting to voice their concerns regarding asbestos exposure, there is much more progress toward a ban.