Stopping asbestos manufacturing in 2002 did little to alleviate fears of future exposure as the United States continued to import the deadly fibers. It would be one in a long line of decisions that ignored not only the countless illnesses and deaths, but also the learned advice from experts that was sought and subsequently and recklessly disregarded.
The Environmental Protection Agency recently decided to forego a ban on asbestos in favor of restrictions. What the agency sees as progress, many others view yet another delay in what countless industrialized nations have already done.
A complete ban on asbestos.
The discovery of internal documents may only add to the outrage. According to two memos, the EPA’s own scientists and lawyers called for a ban on the known carcinogen. They cited the damage already done and the existence of alternatives to asbestos that are significantly safer.
Instead of placing trust in their trusted advisors, the EPA left open a narrow path for manufacturers to find new uses for asbestos or resume archaic and potentially dangerous practices, but only upon approval of the agency.
Sadly, the move was not without precedent. The EPA’s decisions are becoming a tragic trend and involve scaling back both environmental protections and rules governing toxic chemicals.
Agency experts also saw flaws in a review process considered woefully outdated by decades. Specifically, the EPA limited studies to only six fibers of asbestos – overlooking other dangerous and deadly fibers – and focused solely on lung cancer and mesothelioma as harmful effects.
As bureaucrats bicker with their experts who are heralded for knowing better, asbestos will remain a clear and present danger that sees little, if any signs of ending.