Friday, March 22, 2024

U.S. bans last type of asbestos still being used, joining 50 countries that already prohibit it

The phaseout will take more than a decade but the United States has just banned the last type of asbestos still in use.

Its move means America will join 50 other nations that have already prohibited the deadly carcinogen that's linked to lung cancer and mesothelioma, a cancer that forms in the lining of some internal organs.

A story by Coral Davenport in yesterday's editions of The New York Times notes that the Biden administration's action marks the first time since 1989 that the "federal government has moved to significantly restrict the toxic industrial material."

Davenport's piece says the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) regulation would ban the use, manufacture, and import of chrysotile asbestos, also known as white asbestos, a mineral used in roofing materials, textiles, and cement, as well as gaskets, catches, brake pads, and other automotive parts.

It is also a component, the story adds, in diaphragms used to make chlorine (which in turn is used in pharmaceuticals, pesticides, and to purify drinking water).

Michael Regan, EPA administrator, is quoted as saying that "President Biden understands that [concern over the dangerous chemical] has spanned generations and impacted the lives of countless people."

Critics, who feel that the new rule is insufficient, point to asbestos being "linked to an estimated 40,000 deaths annual in the United States," the story indicates.

Mesothelioma, it goes on to say, "disproportionately affects firefighters, who are exposed to asbestos through damaged buildings and have a much higher risk of developing the cancer than the general population."

Linda Reinstein
Linda Reinstein, president and founder of the Asbestos Disease Awareness Organization, is quoted to the effect that her group is "alarmed that the rule allows an unnecessarily long transition period and creates inconsistent compliance deadlines for certain asbestos users that will enable dangerous exposure to chrysotile asbestos to continue for years to come."

Davenport's story maintains that the new rule "stands in sharp contrast to the position of the Trump administration, which fought legislation that would have banned asbestos." The piece further states that Trump "inaccurately declares asbestos '100 percent safe' in his 1997 book, Trump: The Art of the Comeback, and claimed the movement to remove asbestos 'was led by the mob, because it was often mob-related companies that would do the asbestos removal."

More information about substances that can cause disease can be found in Rollercoaster: How a man can survive his partner's breast cancer, a VitalityPress book that I, Woody Weingarten, aimed at male caregivers.

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