For years, the use of asbestos has been believed to be completely banned for use in products in the United States. Most developed countries ban the fiber, but the U.S. has still allowed it for use in some select products that are typically limited to sealants, building materials for roofing, and gaskets.
The dangers of asbestos have long been known and there are various problems that could arise when exposure occurs when the fibers are friable. However, many feel as though if it isn’t friable, it should be considered safe.
Unfortunately, this has led to some changes in the way asbestos will be used in the United States moving forward. Understanding what the new regulations are is important and what it means for individuals may vary. Here are some of the things you should know about the new decisions.
What Did the Environmental Protection Agency Change?
A few months ago, internal agency emails from the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) showed that top officials helped get a measure through that allows the review of applications regarding the use of asbestos in specific consumer products.
This was done despite objections from in-house scientists and lawyers from the agency. It is believed that the new rule would form a new process regarding regulation use of asbestos. The EPA is currently obligated to do this under the change to the toxic substances law in 2016.
Some say that the new rules would potentially make it easier for asbestos to make its way into more products on a widespread label. Consumer groups are challenging this new use regulation, claiming that the agency’s focus should be on prohibiting the use of the fiber entirely.
According to an EPA policy analyst, the new approach may give reason for health concerns as the new proposal can be considered an open door for businesses to use asbestos in some situations without the need to get government assessment. This is a serious public risk if true.
What Is True and What Is False?
Truth: The EPA did in fact propose a new rule regarding the use of asbestos that would initially block some of the current unregulated, however inactive, ways in which asbestos is used. There would be later abilities for those unregulated uses to undergo a safety review and if they pass, would be granted formal approval for use.
False: The EPA will not be allowing legally defined new uses of asbestos to make their way back to the consumer market. The regulation that was proposed by the agency would typically impact only those uses in which asbestos was never banned and are not currently being employed.
In the United States, the attempted ban of asbestos came in the 1970s, but the decision was overturned in 1991 by the federal courts. However, the courts did sustain that the ban would remain on new uses of the fiber and consumers saw a decline in the use of asbestos in the country.
Over the years, there have been tens of thousands of lives lost as a result of mesothelioma, lung cancer, asbestosis, and other diseases associated with the exposure to asbestos and other dangerous chemicals often used in building materials and other products.
Should the EPA regulations be changed drastically to allow the new use of asbestos, it could but the entire public at serious risk of health dangers.
Currently, the United States does not mine or manufacturer its own asbestos. Instead, roughly 95% of the used asbestos in the states comes from Brazil, which banned its manufacture and sale of the fiber last year. Now, the main supplier is Russia.
The Significant New Use Rule (SNUR) would call for 15 specific uses of the dangerous fiber to undergo federal assessment, including but not limited to using asbestos as separators in fuel cells and batteries, as well as in floor tile and high-grade electrical paper.
The main concern of those criticizing the SNUR? If only these 15 specific uses would go undergo federal assessment, would other uses avoid examination to determine if the use is safe? If not, this means many people would be at serious risk of exposure.
The Dangers of New Use of Asbestos
For years, individuals have recognized what asbestos is used in and some of the dangers associated with exposure. However, they were not always informed of the presence of asbestos in certain workplaces putting these individuals at risk.
Despite this, there was an idea of what asbestos was known to be used in. With the potential of new use for asbestos and only 15 specific uses undergoing federal assessment, it would allow some unknown uses of asbestos to make their way to consumers.
If individuals are unaware of which products contain asbestos, would they be aware of the risk? Would the potential for exposure be heightened? Would more and more individuals develop mesothelioma because of it?
These are questions that require answers and the EPA needs to ensure that consumers are protected from such harm. However, do to the latency period associated with mesothelioma, we may not be fully aware of the dangers of new asbestos use until it’s too late.
How Serious Is Mesothelioma?
Even though mesothelioma claims tens of thousands of lives each year, what most people don’t recognize is that this condition can take anywhere from 10 to 40 years before displaying characteristics in the individual suffering.
Mesothelioma is a serious disease, often resulting in death because by the time it is detected, it is too late and the condition has spread throughout the body. By the time the individual is diagnosed, they typically only have a limited amount of time left to live and the condition has worsened to the point where treatment is nearly impossible.
Potential Legal Matters to Consider
With the new rule, what will legal liability look like, especially if some industries are not required to go through government and federal entities to ensure safety? Will individuals at risk have any reprieve should they develop a serious condition after exposure?
These are some of the concerns regarding what can happen as a result of exposure to asbestos and what it could mean for those affected. Determining liability may be difficult moving forward, but those impacted should still have rights to hold negligent parties accountable if their actions cause asbestos exposure.
At Shrader & Associates L.L.P, we understand the dangers of asbestos and how serious exposure can be. We’ve helped countless individuals and families in the aftermath of mesothelioma and we want to continue to help those impacted by this dangerous fiber.
If you or someone you love has developed mesothelioma as a result of exposure to asbestos, know that you have rights that need protecting. It may not help with the condition, but it can help pursue justice and force change in the industry.
Our mesothelioma attorneys are here to help protect the rights of our clients. When you need us most, we’ll work hard to put your needs and best interests first, seeking the outcome you deserve at a time when you and your family need it most.
Call our firm today at (877) 958-7920 and discuss your potential case with our firm. We’re here for you from start to finish.