Asbestos was used for decades in textile products, automotive parts, home and commercial buildings, naval ships, and more. If asbestos is disturbed, the fibers become airborne resulting in inhalation or ingestion. There is no “safe” level of exposure to asbestos; even minimal levels can cause the following asbestos-related diseases including, mesothelioma, lung cancer, and asbestosis.
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has announced a new rule for public comment that would allow the agency to prevent the new use of asbestos. EPA Administrator, Scott Pruitt stated that this rule would provide the American people with the transparency and opportunity to comment on how the EPA evaluates asbestos and other substances undergoing risk evaluation, select studies, and use the best available science to ensure that the products on the marketplace are safe. Even though seeking the public’s outlook on the use of harmful materials can be helpful, it does not automatically create a resolution for America’s asbestos problem.
Although the efforts by the EPA are a step forward in ridding the common usage of asbestos in the U.S., many asbestos-containing products are still being manufactured. Products that are still legal to manufacture, import, process, and distribute commercially in the U.S. include: cement sheeting, pipeline wrap, roofing felt, roof coating, vinyl floor tile, automatic transmission components, disk brake pads, and drum brake lining to name a few. Perhaps the new limits will lead to an overall ban of asbestos in the near future.