Asbestos? Really?

2:34 pm

Piles of asbestos

Piles of asbestos

Every once in a while, I run across a story about a mesothelioma/asbestos lawsuit as I look through the news. Seeing this so often got me thinking, asbestos hasn’t been used in construction since the 70s. Why would people get exposed to asbestos and diagnosed with mesothelioma today? So I went and did a little research to figure out the facts.

Apparently, mesothelioma has a pretty long latency period that can last several decades. Since asbestos was “banned” by the Clean Air Act of 1970, there are still people being diagnosed with mesothelioma 40 years later. I put the word “banned” in quotation marks because it never actually got entirely banned.

The US EPA still does not have a general ban on the use of asbestos in this country. The closest thing to a ban that exists is the mineral’s regulation under Section 112 of the Clean Air Act coupled with the banning of certain applications under the Toxic Substances Control Act. This means that there are still certain places where asbestos can be used legally in the US. Amazing, isn’t it?

Looking back, the information about mesothelioma’s latency period and the lack of a ban on asbestos really makes sense when you see asbestos lawsuits in the news. So I looked into the subject even more and found this article on mesothelioma. It’s amazing what you can glean from that information.

So now, the question is begged: should asbestos be entirely banned? It is an incredible flame retardant, but not necessarily worth its salt when stacked up against the terrible cancer it causes. As far as I know, there are currently no bills being considered to completely ban asbestos and the lawsuits keep coming. It looks like those suits will continue until about 2010 no matter what happens in the law, but if asbestos continues to be used today, who’s to say that they will stop after that? A little food for thought.

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