EPA Announces Ban on Asbestos

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On April 5, 2021, the United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced a proposed rule that, if implemented, will ban the importing and manufacturing of products containing chrysotile asbestos. While there are several types of asbestos, chrysotile asbestos is the only type of asbestos known to be currently imported and used in the United States.

While the use of asbestos in the United States has been in decline since the enactment of a 1989 law partially banning asbestos, this landmark proposal would serve to greatly eliminate the lingering risks associated with certain asbestos-containing products.

Let’s take a deeper look at the EPA’s historic new proposal, how asbestos law affects Michigan cases, the risks to be aware of, and how to take action if you or a loved one has been exposed to asbestos.

Protecting US Workers and Families from Asbestos

Today, several American workers continue to use certain products containing chrysotile asbestos. This type of asbestos is present in six specific product categories. The new EPA proposal would serve to ban the manufacture, import, processing, distribution, and commercial use of these products in the United States.

The six product categories are:

  • Asbestos diaphragms
  • Sheet gaskets
  • Other types of gaskets
  • Aftermarket auto brakes and linings
  • Oilfield brake locks
  • Other vehicle friction products

Banning the import, manufacture, and distribution of these chrysotile asbestos products will protect industrial workers from harmful long-term exposure, as well as American consumers who use them.  Many of these products are used in an important industry related to public health, the chlor-alkali process. This process is responsible for treating drinking water and creating bleach and pharmaceuticals.

While the use of asbestos in the chlor-alkali process has been declining in the US for nearly two decades, the processing plants still account for about one-third of the nation’s chlor-alkali production. There are viable alternatives to asbestos-containing products that would eliminate the unnecessary risks of asbestos exposure.

It is anticipated that companies in the water processing industry may fight the proposed rule, claiming that the ban would harm an already precarious manufacturing and water processing industry. We will keep you abreast of any developments during the rule-making process.

Next Steps in Prohibiting Asbestos

Having completed its evaluation of chrysotile asbestos safety issues, the EPA will separately embark on an extensive evaluation of:

  • The use of asbestos in talc products
  • Other types of asbestos fibers beyond chrysotile
  • Legacy use of asbestos products
  • Disposal of asbestos products

With an expected publication date of December 1, 2024, this evaluation will, hopefully, lead to further rulings to protect the American public from this carcinogenic material.

Asbestos Statutes of Limitations

In America, each state has its statute of limitations.  A statute of limitations is a law that limits the maximum amount of time that can pass between when an alleged injury occurs and when the affected party can initiate legal proceedings.

In the case of asbestos exposure, the statute of limitations begins when a person is diagnosed with an asbestos-related disease, such as mesothelioma or lung cancer. From that point, there is a limited amount of time in which to pursue legal recourse for the injury.

In Michigan, a person has three years in which to file a claim after you have been diagnosed with an asbestos-exposure-related illness. If the person passes away after a diagnosis, but before the statute of limitations expires, under special circumstances outlined in the wrongful death statute, there may be an additional three years to file a claim.

It’s important to act promptly to pursue the justice you deserve for being exposed to asbestos.

Asbestos Exposure Risks

There are many reasons why it’s important to be aware of the risk of asbestos exposure. The EPA’s landmark new proposal addresses chrysotile asbestos, specifically. Chrysotile asbestos is the most common type of asbestos used in America, with around 90-95% of all U.S. buildings containing asbestos being constructed with this type.  Not only are workers who manufacture or construct products and buildings at potential risk, but also people who work or live in these buildings. This type of asbestos was also widely used in Navy shipyards, the steel and automotive industries putting civilians and military veterans alike at great risk.

Asbestos exposure can take decades to develop into noticeable symptoms. By the time these symptoms appear, the damage has already been done.

Tiny asbestos fibers can become airborne and, when inhaled, can lead to scarring of the lungs, inflammation, breathing problems, and several forms of cancer. Mesothelioma is the most common cancerous disease caused by asbestos exposure and, while it can take up to five or so decades to develop, it is always fatal.

Get Legal Help if You Have Been Exposed to Asbestos

While the current EPA proposal would only ban chrysotile asbestos-containing products, there are still five additional known types of asbestos that put us at risk: crocidolite, amosite, anthophyllite, tremolite, and actinolite. Federal legislation can move slowly—however, you have resources that can help you right now, should you need it.

If you have been exposed to asbestos and have received a diagnosis, you must take action – even if you are in the midst of medical treatment. You deserve trustworthy, caring, experienced legal representation. Don’t wait. Reach out for your complimentary case evaluation today.