From the blog

A Full Ban on Asbestos Was Recently Proposed

Published: April 14, 2022

The Environmental Protection Agency just proposed a ban of all uses of chrysotile asbestos. It is the only asbestos that is imported into the country today. If banned, the material cannot be imported and the manufacturing, processing, distribution, and commercial use of it would be prohibited. The ban would be under the Toxic Substances Control Act. Current products asbestos can be found in include diaphragms, sheet gaskets, oil field brake locks, aftermarket automotive brakes and linings, and other vehicle friction products. This is the first step toward removing asbestos from everyday life and the protection of consumers and workers.

The banning of asbestos would hurt the chloralkali industry primarily. It imported around 300 metric tons of asbestos in 2020. It uses asbestos to create semipermeable membranes to be used for making chlorine. A lobbying group for the chemical industry criticized the proposed ban, claiming it would reduce the amount of chlorine in the country, limiting the drinking water supply. Only 10 chloralkali factories use asbestos diaphragms for making chlorine, and this number is declining. There are alternatives that can be used, and many companies have taken the step to make their workplaces safer by removing asbestos

Asbestos is currently heavily regulated, but people are still pushing for a ban on the carcinogenic substance. This would bring us in line with 60 countries that have banned asbestos in some way or another. Asbestos was blocked in the U.S. by the Toxic Substances Control Act in 1989, but lobby groups were able to get the ban overturned. If asbestos is finally banned, asbestos diaphragms and sheet gaskets would be banned in two years. Prohibitions of other products would take effect 180 days after being passed. This is coming during the risk evaluation for asbestos being done by the EPA. It is currently on phase 2, which will be completed by 2024.

Asbestos was once valued for its heat resistant properties, but dangers related to asbestos can no longer be ignored. It was in products ranging from construction to consumer products. When people are exposed to the microscopic fibers, over time, this can lead to lung cancer, mesothelioma, and other cancers. The National Asbestos Awareness Week resolution, which asks the Surgeon General to educate people about health effects caused by asbestos, was submitted April 5 to the Federal Register. Comments are being accepted for 60 days after April 5.

“EPA Actions to Protect the Public from Exposure to Asbestos” EPA [Link]
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