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Does new EPA rule close the asbestos gap?

After your years of employment at the Avondale shipyards or another industry where you faced exposure to asbestos, you may be like many who are suffering from mesothelioma, lung cancer or another asbestos-related illness. Researchers have widely accepted the link between asbestos and certain cancers, which is why it may seem strange to you that the U.S. has not banned asbestos altogether.

In fact, 30 years ago, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency banned the sale of certain asbestos products and the use of asbestos in any new products. However, a new EPA rule may be as concerning to you as it is to many others, especially those who continue to suffer due to their exposure to asbestos products.

Understanding the new rule

The U.S. government still allows the use of asbestos. However, there are strict limitations on its use. Nevertheless, if you are suffering from the effects of asbestos exposure, you may wonder why the government allows the deadly substance in any product. The partial ban in 1989 restricted five specific uses of asbestos, but a recent regulation supposedly strengthens that rule. Now, a total of 19 products that contain asbestos must pass EPA evaluation and approval before they can enter the market, including these and others:

  • Certain floor tiles
  • Adhesives
  • Reinforced plastics
  • Sealants
  • Rollboard
  • Roofing and flooring felt
  • Pipeline wrap

The EPA also includes a category that restricts any other asbestos products not specifically limited.

New dangers ahead?

Despite these restrictions, some reports indicate that 300 tons of raw asbestos enters the U.S. each year for use in the chloralkali process, which is an essential stage in the manufacturing of products containing sodium hydroxide, chlorine and hydrogen. Apparently, nothing in the new rules restricts any ongoing use of asbestos, including that in the chloralkali industry.

You may be like many who feel this new rule does not go far enough. After all, it does not ban the products from the marketplace but only requires manufacturers or importers to obtain the approval of the EPA before offering them to the public. While this approval may be difficult to gain, you and others may fear it is not impossible that deadly products, such as those that placed your health in danger, could return to the homes and businesses of unsuspecting residents of Louisiana and across the country.

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