Despite numerous efforts to ban its use and overwhelming evidence of its harmful properties, asbestos is still allowed in the United States. It is no longer mined here, but plenty of American businesses still use and sell asbestos-based products. Proven to cause cancer, millions have died after exposure to asbestos.
Because of this, many lawmakers have tried to ban the substance, but with little success. This has created a long legal history in U.S. courts, which makes it very difficult to introduce new laws regulating asbestos or other hazardous materials.
A brief history of asbestos regulation
It has been nearly a decade that the U.S. government has understood the danger caused by asbestos:
- US doctors recorded the first cases of asbestos-related cancer in 1935.
- In 1989, a $10 million study from the EPA concluded that the U.S. should ban 90% of asbestos products.
- In 1991, despite proof that asbestos was the cause of several fatal illnesses, the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals dismissed much of the EPA’s findings. Their rulings have created an uphill battle for any government regulators to ban asbestos or other hazardous materials.
- In 2002, a bill called Ban Asbestos barely made its way to the House floor. This watered-down bill didn’t even call for a total ban of asbestos and failed immediately anyway.
- The defense rationale hasn’t budged since its initial arguments: banning asbestos is simply too costly and has no safer alternatives.
An uncertain future
Currently, over 50 nations have banned asbestos. Industrial countries like China, India, Russia, and Brazil have only increased their use. It is unlikely that any politicians will propose new laws regulating the use of asbestos in the current political climate, as the administration continues to roll back increasing numbers of environmental and health regulations. An estimated 10,000 Americans die every year from asbestos-related diseases. The only recourse for mourning families is to take legal action backed by personal injury attorneys with experience handling asbestos-related illnesses.