Many people are shocked to learn that the use of asbestos has not been completely banned in the United States. People assume that the numerous lawsuits and studies linking asbestos to mesothelioma and other diseases caused the mineral to be banned. However, despite the dangers, manufacturers are still allowed to include this mineral in certain products, like gaskets, brake pads and welder’s blankets.
If you were injured due to asbestos exposure, you may be able to pursue compensation for the damages you suffered. Contact a Virginia mesothelioma lawyer from our firm for more information on initiating a claim.
Asbestos was not regulated in the U.S. until the 1970s. Before then, it was widely used in numerous products, including ship-making materials, auto parts and construction materials.
The Clean Air Act of 1970 was the first meaningful federal response to asbestos. This act classified the mineral as a hazardous air pollutant. It provided the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) with the authority to regulate the use and disposal of asbestos. Most spray-based asbestos products were banned at this time.
The Toxic Substances Control Act was passed in 1976 and it expanded the EPA’s authority, giving it the power to restrict certain chemicals, including asbestos. In 1986, the Asbestos Hazard Emergency Response Act was passed, and it mandated that the EPA implement standards on the inspection and removal of asbestos in schools.
The last push for regulation was in July 1989 when the EPA issued the Asbestos Ban and Phase-Out Rule. The intent of this federal act was to impose a total ban on the use of asbestos products in the United States.
However, asbestos manufacturers sued the EPA in 1991. Supporters of asbestos claimed that completely phasing out the mineral would result in economic consequences and massive job loss. The court that heard the case ruled to overturn that ban because the EPA failed to show a ban was the least burdensome alternative to the regulation of asbestos.
In 2007, a bill to ban asbestos passed in the U.S. Senate but was defeated in the U.S. House of Representatives.
There are currently six categories of asbestos-containing materials that remain banned:
The EPA has also banned new uses of asbestos. This prevents companies from repurposing banned materials for something else. This has promoted the development of substitute products that could eventually replace the need for asbestos.
However, it is still legal to sell a variety of asbestos-containing products, including car brake pads and gaskets, roofing products and fireproof clothing.
Manufacturers can continue to use asbestos in consumer products if it accounts for less than one percent of the product. This despite the fact that the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health announced in 1980 that there is no safe level of asbestos exposure.
If you were exposed to asbestos, it is important that you understand your rights. You may have the right to be compensated for the damages you sustained as a result of this exposure. Asbestos exposure can often lead to debilitating diseases and life-altering consequences. You may have incurred many medical expenses for treatment related to your exposure. You may have also lost time from work or may have become too ill to return to work.
If you were exposed to asbestos, contact our skilled lawyers for further assistance. We charge no upfront costs or fees – we work on a contingency fee basis, so there is no risk to contacting us to learn more about your legal options.