Is Asbestos Still Used In The U.S.? The Dangerous Truth

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Is Asbestos Still Used In The U.S.?

Any reasonable person could expect asbestos use to have all but disappeared from the American landscape by 2024. After all, the link between asbestos exposure and cancer was scientifically established in a 1955 study by Dr. Richard Doll.

Today, scientists agree that there is no safe level of exposure to asbestos. While there has been progress with regulating its use in many industries, there is still no national asbestos ban in the U.S. — meaning there is still a real risk of workers breathing in toxic asbestos fibers and developing life-threatening illnesses.

Still In Use. Still A Threat.

The process of minimizing asbestos use in the U.S. has been long and slow. It wasn’t until the 1970s, decades after asbestos was known to cause cancer, that the U.S. government took steps to regulate and reduce its use. In 1989, the EPA (Environmental Protection Agency) ordered a ban of over 90% of products containing asbestos, but it was overturned.

Today, asbestos is only banned in less than one dozen types of products* in the U.S. and for new use in products that have not historically contained asbestos. Over 50 countries have banned it, but the U.S. continues to permit its use — exposing people to a carcinogen that has caused death and irreparable health problems for thousands of Americans.

People most at risk for asbestos exposure include workers in many industries and trades: automotive, maritime workers in shipyards, military servicemen, railroad employees, plumbers, pipefitters, millwrights, electricians, and many more. The families of these employees are also at risk for secondary exposure. If you or a loved one have received a diagnosis for an asbestos-related illness, the attorneys at Serling & Abramson, P.C. have a proven track record and can pursue justice on your behalf.

Illnesses From Asbestos Exposure

For illnesses that can cause such catastrophic damage to the human body, the root cause is surprisingly small. When we are exposed to asbestos, we can breathe in small airborne asbestos fibers. As our bodies attempt to break down and eliminate these particles from the lungs, inflammation occurs, with the particles reaching even the smallest and most distant parts of our lungs. This inflammation can result in several harmful (and irreversible) conditions:

  • Mesothelioma. Scientists are in agreement that virtually all cases of mesothelioma are caused by exposure to asbestos. While this aggressive form of cancer is relatively rare, heavily industrialized states like Michigan have a disproportionately high share of cases. The most common type of mesothelioma, plural mesothelioma, affects the lining of the lungs; it can also affect organs like the heart and testicles.
  • Lung cancer. Inhalation of asbestos fibers has been linked to an increased risk of lung cancer in many medical studies. The size of the dose, the duration of exposure, and the chemical makeup of the asbestos fibers are all factors that can affect your risk level.
  • Asbestosis. This lesser-known respiratory disease is caused when the inhalation of asbestos fibers causes scarring of the lung tissue, resulting in shortness of breath and pain. Asbestosis can also eventually lead to the development of mesothelioma and lung cancer.

Aging Workplaces Creating New Cases

Even if asbestos was banned in the U.S. today, there would still be millions of people in danger. Asbestos-containing materials installed decades ago exist in old buildings, factories, railway lines, and ships — and the work required to properly abate and replace it all is immense.

Because mesothelioma has a latency (or growth) phase of 10 to 50 years, thousands of new cases are diagnosed each year in people who have been exposed during their careers. Unlike lung cancer caused by smoking, the risk of mesothelioma does not reduce over time after the exposure stops.

Recent EPA efforts to examine and rehabilitate buildings containing asbestos are encouraging but have focused on schools and public buildings. A currently proposed ban on one form of asbestos being imported into the U.S. would limit exposure, but wouldn’t help the large workforces across the country who still encounter asbestos in insulation and equipment already in place.

As of February 2024, Michigan still has not enacted legislation pertaining to an asbestos ban. As a Michigan-based law firm, Serling & Abramson, P.C. has seen time and time again how this has affected the people of this state.

If you or a loved one think you’ve been harmed by asbestos exposure, there are many reasons to contact Serling & Abramson, P.C.:

  • We have 50+ years of experience in this specialized area of law
  • We don’t hand cases off to attorneys in other states
  • We’re aware of the statute of limitations for asbestos-related cases and act with urgency
  • We will review your case free of charge

The U.S. may not be moving quickly enough to ban asbestos and its harmful effects…but the attorneys of Serling & Abramson, P.C. won’t hesitate to advise you and pursue compensation for your loss.