Asbestos refers to a group of naturally occurring fibrous materials that are useful due to their tensile strength, poor heat conduction, and resistance to chemical attacks. It is a useful component in materials and asbestos usage includes insulation in buildings, roofing materials, water supply lines, clutches, brakelinings, gaskets, and automobile pads. Today, chrysotile is the only commercial asbestos still in use, which is mostly used in fiber cement boards.
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.
Is Asbestos Banned in the United States?
Certain uses of asbestos was originally banned in the United States by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) in 1973 and most products containing asbestos were banned in 1989. However, this was overturned by the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals in 1991. Today, asbestos fibers in the United States are mostly used in the diaphragm of chlor-alkali plants for the electrolysis of Sodium Chloride. In 2016, the EPA announced it would evaluate ten chemicals for risk to human health and the environment under the Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA) reform. The EPA says asbestos exposure is associated with lung cancer, mesothelioma, and asbestosis.
Is Asbestos Banned in Other Parts of the World?
Asbestos is banned in over 55 countries across the globe, which includes Japan, Australia, and all countries in the European region. Iceland was the first to ban asbestos imports due to health concerns in 1983, followed soon after by Sweden. Germany banned asbestos in 1992 followed by the United Kingdom in 1999. However, asbestos continues to be used in Asia, Russia, and some parts of the United States.
Health Effects of Asbestos
Asbestos can cause cancers of the lung, ovaries, and larynx and is suspected to cause gastrointestinal cancer. Once inhaled, asbestos fibers may stay in the body and cause asbestosis, which is a progressive inflammatory disease that scars the lungs. Smoking is known to increase the risks of lung cancer with asbestos exposure.
What You Can Do
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.
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. Together, we can reduce the usage of asbestos across the globe and fight to live asbestos-free lives.