10 Reasons Asbestos Should Be Banned in America

Workers in protective gear remove asbestos from building

For decades, many manufacturers hid the dangers of asbestos, a carcinogen known to cause serious illnesses like mesothelioma, asbestosis, and other asbestos-related diseases.

Despite widespread awareness of how dangerous asbestos can be, there remains widespread misunderstanding about how the U.S. government regulates and controls this toxic mineral.

On July 12, 1989, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) banned asbestos in the U.S. After only two years, legislators and the courts rolled back the ban.

In response to the EPA’s ban on asbestos, chemical corporations complained that the ban was too financially stressful. Many of these companies even contributed millions to lobbying against the ban.

To this day — 34 years after the EPA’s short-lived ban — asbestos remains in use in the United States, putting millions at risk of serious illnesses.

As a national mesothelioma law firm, Sokolove Law has been in the fight against asbestos for over 45 years, helping affected families get compensation for care.

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The sad truth is that many Americans wrongly believe asbestos has already been banned in the U.S. However, to this day, asbestos remains at large, threatening too many lives.

Here are 10 reasons why asbestos should be fully banned.

1. Asbestos Kills 40,000 Americans Every Year

Studies show that asbestos-related diseases kill nearly 40,000 Americans every year.

These life-threatening asbestos-related diseases include:

Globally, that number skyrockets to about 255,000 deaths each year. This staggering loss of life could eventually be prevented if asbestos were no longer in use.

2. Asbestos Lingers for Decades

Even if asbestos-containing products are hidden in walls, floors, or insulation, they can still be dangerous, especially when disturbed.

The vast majority of American buildings constructed before the 1980s were built using asbestos-containing materials. When these buildings undergo renovations or begin to break down naturally over time, asbestos fibers can break off and be inhaled or ingested.

Many victims may not even know they were exposed to asbestos until 20-50 years later when symptoms first start to develop.

Renovation and construction workers, skilled laborers, and abatement professionals often get exposed to asbestos while completing projects on older buildings or transporting materials to landfills. This is known as the “third wave of asbestos-related disease.

3. Entire Families Are Put at Risk

Those who work in high-risk asbestos occupations may unknowingly bring asbestos home with them. The microscopic fibers can cling to clothing or hair until the worker changes at home, where the fibers are then released into the air.

From there, children and spouses can be exposed. This is known as take-home or secondhand asbestos exposure.

Because there is no safe amount of asbestos, even just one fiber can greatly increase someone’s risk of developing asbestos-related diseases later in life.

4. There’s No Cure for Asbestos-Related Diseases

While treatment for asbestos-related diseases is improving every year, these illnesses still have no official cure.

This means that innocent people are left coping with the painful symptoms for the rest of their lives — or their lives are cut tragically short.

5. The Consequences of Asbestos Are Expensive

Diseases that are caused by asbestos have no cure. Sadly, the treatments to improve quality of life and extend life expectancy are incredibly expensive.

When it comes to mesothelioma, patients can easily spend over $400,000 for their first year of treatment. This amount is a huge barrier for families seeking life-changing treatments.

Struggling with the costs of treatment? Sokolove Law may be able to help. See if you qualify for compensation now for free.

6. Asbestos Lurks in Everyday Products Like Cosmetics

Asbestos isn’t just in construction materials — it’s also present in countless everyday products.

For instance, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) discovered Johnson & Johnson’s talcum-based baby powder was contaminated with asbestos. Thousands may now be at risk of ovarian cancer and mesothelioma as a result.

This isn’t the only product, though. Sadly, nearly 20% of popular cosmetic brands contain asbestos, according to the FDA — including makeup kits marketed to children.

7. Asbestos Makes the Rich Richer and the Poor Poorer

Chemical corporations like Honeywell and Koch Industries try to present themselves as worker-friendly, yet these same companies hid the dangers of asbestos from workers for decades to protect their profits.

While chemical companies — and their shareholders — grow richer from continued asbestos use, the workers on the ground suffer, footing the bills for these diseases.

Veterans are one group most widely impacted by asbestos exposure. Every military branch, particularly the U.S. Navy, used asbestos products throughout the 20th century.

Approximately 33% of all mesothelioma diagnoses involve veterans.

Another profession at the backbone of our country’s success is school teachers. Yet, they are also at risk of asbestos exposure every day, with over 1.4 million teachers at risk in nearly 35,000 schools.

8. The U.S. Has Been Left Behind by the Rest of the World

The United States is behind the times when it comes to asbestos regulations. Around the world, 67 other countries have already banned the carcinogen, including Canada, most of Europe, and many other developed nations.

The science behind how asbestos kills people is not up for debate. Other countries have acted upon this knowledge by taking action and passing laws that ban asbestos use.

Unfortunately, America, China, and Russia are some of the few heavily industrialized nations that have chosen not to act on an asbestos ban. In fact, in recent years, asbestos imports into the U.S. have increased.

9. Asbestos Use in the U.S. Endangers Workers Abroad

With faster travel and a globalized economy, the world seems smaller now than ever before. Because of this, toxic waste that includes asbestos travels around the globe easily.

Take battleships, for example. When U.S. Navy ships were decommissioned — because they contained asbestos — they were sent to India to be broken down and disposed of for cheap.

Unfortunately, it’s cheaper to break down ships in India because the workers aren’t properly protected. The U.S.’s attempt to rid itself of asbestos often casts the problem onto another, poorer nation.

10. Safer Alternatives Exist

According to a report in Environmental Health Perspectives, there are more than a dozen alternative substances to asbestos. Why then don’t more American companies switch to materials that could save thousands of lives?

The short answer is that those safer materials would cost corporations roughly 10-15% more than it costs them to use asbestos, cutting into the millions in profits these companies reap every year.

The continued use of asbestos in America is a business decision. It can be more aptly described as companies prioritizing profits over human lives.

Now Is the Time for Action

As long as asbestos remains legal in America, thousands of lives will be at risk every year. Now is the time for action from legislators and corporations — and momentum is building.

In March 2023, Congress reintroduced the Alan Reinstein Ban Asbestos Now Act, which could ban every type of asbestos if passed. And, in July 2023, the EPA also started collecting data on exactly how much asbestos is being used.

If you or a loved one has been diagnosed with an asbestos-related disease, you may be eligible for justice from a mesothelioma lawsuit that Sokolove Law can handle on your behalf.

We’ve recovered over $5 Billion in mesothelioma settlements and verdicts since our founding in 1979.

Call us at (800) 995-1212 to see if our asbestos exposure attorneys can help you.

Sokolove Law Team

Contributing Authors

The Sokolove Law Content Team is made up of writers, editors, and journalists. We work with case managers and attorneys to keep site information up to date and accurate. Our site has a wealth of resources available for victims of wrongdoing and their families.

Last modified: May 24, 2024

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