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Asbestos: Often Forgotten, but not Gone

Asbestos is one of those stories that seem to disappear from view for years or decades, only to reappear and demonstrate that while many have forgotten the substance was ever used in the U.S., it is still present in many products and when anyone looks, they are often surprised at its virulence.

Many mistakenly believe it is no longer a problem at all. They believe it was banned 25 years ago and that "the government" cleaned up the remaining substance at that time. However, it was not banned in many materials, as industry litigation stopped the Environmental Protection Agency's attempt to create regulations that would have prevented much of the use of asbestos, in this country.

Instead, the industry moved the manufacturing capacity offshore to ensure that that process could not be regulated by the U.S. EPA and they have successfully fought any efforts to restrict or ban the importation of products made with and therefore contaminated with asbestos.

Which is why the asbestos industry is likely unhappy with a recent report that details the death toll caused by the industrial use of the deadly mineral in the last half of the previous century.

Allegheny County and Pennsylvania were found to rates of asbestos-related diseases "four to 13 times the national average." The report demonstrates again that in areas around the U.S. where asbestos was used, such as Pennsylvania's steel mills and California's shipyards, many workers have become sick and died as a result of their exposure to asbestos.

Many nations have banned asbestos, but the U.S., home to many potentially liable corporations and to their insurance companies, has not. And as we have noted before, our Congress is not considering legislation that bans the mineral, but instead, that would force victims of asbestos exposure to disclose personal medical information and that would make it more time consuming and difficult for them to sue for their disease.

Source:, "Study: Asbestos deaths in Allegheny County, Pa. much higher than national average," Don Hopey, July 6, 2015

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