The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency Bans Ongoing Use of Asbestos

On March 18, 2024, the United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced a final rule prohibiting the use of chrysotile asbestos, the last remaining type of asbestos that was being used and imported into the United States. Considering that asbestos is a known carcinogen that is already banned in more than fifty (50) countries, this is a monumental announcement that is long overdue.

The pervasive severe health risks associated with asbestos exposure have been well-documented for decades. Though new asbestos use in the United States has declined steadily since the 1980s, each year in the United States asbestos exposure is linked to 40,000 deaths from lung cancer, mesothelioma, and other cancers. The unfortunate reality is that asbestos still lingers as a construction material in millions of homes and public buildings throughout the United States.

Traditionally, the risk of asbestos exposure and related diagnoses of lung cancer or mesothelioma was associated with working in an industrial setting like shipbuilding, factories, or servicing heavy machinery. While those risks have reduced with the passage of time, the risk of exposure from asbestos-containing building materials in public buildings and college campuses remains.

Although there are several known types of asbestos, the only form known to be imported, processed, or distributed for use in the United States is chrysotile. The EPA ban comes on the heels of steadily increasing imports of chrysotile asbestos each year, as recently as 2022. Chrysotile asbestos is found in many products including asbestos diaphragms, sheet gaskets, brake blocks, aftermarket automotive brakes/linings, other vehicle friction products, and other gaskets.

Though this decision to ban chrysotile asbestos is long overdue, it is not the end of asbestos use in the United States. As Phase II of its asbestos risk evaluation, the EPA will be considering legacy uses of chrysotile asbestos, disposal of chrysotile asbestos, as well as asbestos-containing talc. Our asbestos litigation team will continue to monitor the EPA’s evaluation closely and provide an update when Phase II is complete.

While asbestos exposure has been linked to lung cancer and mesothelioma for decades the long latency period is a lesser-known consequence of exposure. This means that you may be diagnosed with lung cancer or mesothelioma decades after you were exposed to asbestos. Contacting an attorney as soon as you are diagnosed with lung cancer or mesothelioma is critical to allow for your potential claim to be timely investigated and filed.

If you or a loved one has been diagnosed with lung cancer or mesothelioma it is important to act quickly to protect your rights. Contact us today to schedule a consultation with a member of our asbestos litigation team. You don’t have to face this challenging situation alone – we are here to fight for you.

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