Asbestos may be a naturally-occurring substance with a broad range of uses, but it is dangerous. Employers once had little idea about how deadly this mineral substance can be, but modern science has made major progress in this area.
Asbestos is now a known human carcinogen, meaning that doctors know there is a direct relationship between asbestos exposure and the later development of cancer. Asbestos is so dangerous that there is no known safe level of exposure, meaning that employers can not reasonably protect workers who handle it.
Lawmakers plan to act to protect workers
The more medical science discovers about the effects of asbestos, the more people push for asbestos regulations. Recently, there has been a lot of talk about a total ban on asbestos for domestic production purposes.
Despite increased social and governmental scrutiny regarding asbestos, importation of asbestos has actually increased in recent months. That may mean that hundreds more workers wind up exposed before any federal ban takes effect.
Asbestos often comes from abroad
Even the process of mining and transporting asbestos can be dangerous, so much of the domestic supply comes from foreign companies. The United States International Trade Commission found that 114 metric tons of one form of asbestos entered the United States in just the first three months of 2022. That is an increase over the amount imported during the same three months in the previous year.
Despite the possibility of a total asbestos ban within the next two years, businesses continue to import and use this dangerous substance. Knowing your rights when you work with asbestos or when someone in your family has handled the material previously will make it easier for you to protect yourself or to make a claim if you develop an asbestos-related illness later.