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Banning Asbestos

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Asbestos Not Banned in the United States

FACT:  While over 40 other industrialized nations have banned asbestos, the United States has failed to fully issue a ban on asbestos, a carcinogen known to cause mesothelioma, a terminal cancer.

Each year approximately three thousand or more Americans develop mesothelioma.  Mesothelioma is a cancer that, after a latency period of ten to fifty years, aggressively invades the linings of the lungs, abdomen, heart or testicles.

Mesothelioma affects our parents, our children, our friends and our neighbors. Since the industrial revolution, America's trades workers and military veterans have been exposed to asbestos. Asbestos was used by hundreds of companies and in thousands of products - brakes, pipes, gaskets, furnaces, curtains, tiles and more. And when workers brought the asbestos fibers home each night in their clothes and hair, their spouses and  children were also exposed.

Today millions of Americans are still risk. Asbestos is present in our homes, offices and schools; and in a wide variety of products. The incidence of mesothelioma still has not peaked in the U.S., and is growing to epidemic proportions in other parts the world. The tragedy of 9/11 demonstrates the continued, long-term threat of mesothelioma. The collapse of the towers released microscopic asbestos fibers, and the firefighters, rescue workers and other heroes of 9/11 were exposed.

While we work carefully to remove asbestos, the United States continues to import it into our country. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) tried to ban asbestos-containing materials entirely by establishing a ban in 1989. The asbestos-producing companies sued to have the ban overturned and they succeeded in 1991 when the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals revoked the ban. After this ruling, the ban was reduced to just six types of ACM, which included the manufacturing, importing, processing, or distribution of those six in commerce.

According to the EPA, ACMs still allowed to be made in the United States include asbestos pipeline wrap, vinyl-asbestos floor tile, asbestos wall board, asbestos clothing, asbestos-cement corrugated and flat sheeting, asbestos roofing felt, asbestos-cement shingles and pipe, and coatings for roofing. Various automotive products, including friction materials, are also still being manufactured and sold in the United States.Other products that fall under regulated ACM are friable asbestos materials, whether by nature or because of demolition, renovation, abrasion, or other mechanical forces.

CURRENT EFFORT TO BAN ASBESTOS

In September 2008, the Committee on Energy and Commerce in the House of Representatives introduced HR 6903, the "Bruce Vento Ban Asbestos and Prevent Mesothelioma Act of 2008," sponsored by Representative Gene Green, the Chairman of the Environment and Hazardous Materials Subcommittee. This bill was never passed. Click here to write to congress, and urge them to pass this bill immediately.

U.S. ENVIRONMENTAL PROTECTION AGENCY STATEMENT

"On July 12, 1989, EPA issued a final rule banning most asbestos-containing products. In 1991, this regulation was overturned by the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals in New Orleans. As a result of the Court's decision, the following specific asbestos-containing products remain banned: flooring felt, rollboard, and corrugated, commercial, or specialty paper. In addition, the regulation continues to ban the use of asbestos in products that have not historically contained asbestos, otherwise referred to as "new uses" of asbestos. For more information read the EPA Asbestos Materials Ban (ABPO Rule): Clarification (PDF)."