Asbestos has many useful features. It’s lightweight and flame retardant. For years, it was one of the most common building materials used in Pennsylvania and across the USA. By 1918, the Bureau of Labor Statistics had noticed higher mortality among workers who handled asbestos. Over the years, the links between asbestos and diseases like asbestosis and cancer were established.
Asbestos and the EPA
One of the first regulations to affect the industrial use of asbestos in the US was the Clean Air Act of 1970. This established that asbestos exposure is a hazard and must be prevented. However, the risks related to asbestos are still not fully understood. To that end, the started a Final Risk Evaluation on asbestos in 2016.
This evaluation was expected to be fully completed by 2020. But by January of 2021, only the first part was ready. So far, this Final Risk Evaluation has come under widespread criticism. In fact, organizations like the Asbestos Disease Awareness Organization have banded together and filed an intent to sue notice against the EPA over the content in the report.
The ADAO and other organizations believe that the EPA may be neglecting to tell the full story. They want to push the EPA to engage with the issues posed by legacy asbestos in that report. Asbestos that is still in place and hasn’t been removed or safely disposed of poses a serious health risk.
Asbestos has been banned in many countries, including Australia, Italy and the UK. However, it’s still legal for certain applications in the US. Organizations like the ADAO believe that an American ban is a good idea. They have shifted some of their efforts from advocacy to legal intervention. Lawsuits may be able to force a dangerous product like asbestos out of the marketplace.