EPA may allow more products with asbestos

Asbestos was used widely in the U.S. from the late 1800s to the 1970s until its use was banned in wallboard patching compounds and gas fireplaces. In 1989, the Asbestos Ban and Phase-Out rule prohibited all new uses of asbestos, specifically in flooring felt, commercial paper, corrugated paper, rollboard and specialty paper. Missouri residents should know, however, that the EPA is making a drastic change.

In June 2018, the agency enacted a Significant New Use Rule that allows manufacturers of new products containing asbestos to petition and seek approval for distribution. Opponents claim that the EPA is no longer concerned with potential exposure and is ignoring improper asbestos disposal, contamination, emissions and other risks to health and the environment.

Asbestos fibers are soft, flexible and heat-resistant, which make them an ideal material for insulation, fireproofing and soundproofing, but the inhalation of those fibers leads to lung cancer, mesothelioma and other diseases. Asbestos has officially been classified as carcinogenic.

The material has been banned in over 50 countries, but the U.S., along with Canada, Brazil, China and Russia, still allows it in some limited form. The World Health Organization states that 125 million people worldwide are being exposed to asbestos every day. About half of all cases of occupational cancer are asbestos-related, and several thousand people die every year from exposure in their home.

Mesothelioma is a rare disease but the most common asbestos-related cancer. Those who believe they incurred mesothelioma or another asbestos-related disease because of exposure in the workplace may want to consult with an attorney about filing a personal injury claim. The lawyer may be able to negotiate for a fair settlement that covers past and future medical expenses, lost income, pain and suffering and more. If a victim died from the disease, a family member or other eligible dependent might consider filing a wrongful death suit.

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