The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) authorized a “significant new use rule” (SNUR), allowing for the potential reintroduction of asbestos into manufacturing.
Under the rule, asbestos may be used to create new products such as adhesives, sealants, and pipeline wrap, which will be evaluated by the EPA on a case by case basis.
Asbestos was once widely used in the construction industry and in a variety of products, including paint, tiles and insulation. It was also used in consumer products such as small appliances, baby powder, and potting soil.
For years, despite having evidence of the health risks associated with asbestos exposure, companies and manufacturers continued to market asbestos to the public.
It is now widely known that asbestos exposure causes terminal diseases like lung cancer and mesothelioma. There are nearly 40,000 asbestos-related deaths per year, according to the Asbestos Disease Awareness Organization (ADAO).
The United States has not banned the use of asbestos altogether, as other countries have done, but rather has placed strict regulations upon its use. Now, it will be largely up to local and state governments, as well as manufacturing companies and consumers, to regulate use of the harmful toxin.
Asbestos-related disease advocacy groups are strongly opposed to the new rule, pointing out that asbestos is a known carcinogen. Direct and even second-hand exposure to asbestos puts workers at risk of developing mesothelioma.
Those with mesothelioma may not show symptoms of the disease for decades, sometimes up to 50 years after exposure. There is currently no known cure for mesothelioma, and once diagnosed, life expectancy is usually short.
The executive director of the Mesothelioma Applied Research Foundation calls for an absolute ban on asbestos, citing a 2017 Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) report that shows a rise in mesothelioma-related deaths, despite Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) and EPA efforts to limit asbestos exposure.
Under the 2016 amendment to the 1976 Toxic Substances Control Act, the EPA is required to continually reevaluate potentially harmful chemicals. The SNUR was implemented after the EPA finished its review of the first ten chemicals. According to the EPA, the risk evaluations for those chemicals will be published in December 2019, after further investigation.
The media recently uncovered a photo of President Trump’s face on a seal used to stamp asbestos shipping pallets by the world’s largest supplier of asbestos, a Russian mining company. Trump has also voiced skepticism about the dangers of asbestos. It therefore remains to be seen what types of, and how many, asbestos-containing products will be allowed by the administration.
The EPA stated that press reports regarding the issue are inaccurate, and that the new rule will allow the agency to have more control over the use of asbestos, because companies must first seek EPA approval before implementing any new uses.
If you were exposed to asbestos at work, or you developed an asbestos-related disease, contact a skilled Dover asbestos lawyer at Jacobs & Crumplar, P.A. For a free and confidential consultation, contact us online or call us at 302-656-5445. From our offices in Wilmington and Georgetown, our experienced lawyers will fight to get you the justice and compensation you deserve. We represent clients throughout Delaware, Pennsylvania, New Jersey, Maryland and the District of Columbia.