Banning Asbestos Products
It’s estimated that 27 million Americans were exposed to asbestos products during the 20th century.
By the 1970s, it was no longer possible to hold back the massive amount of information proving the dangers of asbestos exposure.
However, since the dangers had been downplayed and hid for so long, it remains unknown how many people suffered or died from exposure before then. Statistics weren’t kept before the 1960s, and many early asbestos illnesses were diagnosed as other ailments.
Regulators in the U.S. federal government started taking steps in the late 1970s to control products containing asbestos materials.
That included regulators such as:
- Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)
- Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety & Health Administration (OSHA)
- U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC)
By the late 1980s, authorities had successfully banned some asbestos products, although many are still legal in the U.S. today.
U.S. federal legislation lists asbestos products individually identified as banned substances. They also dictate which products are permitted but highly controlled.
The three U.S. laws affecting asbestos products are:
- Clean Air Act
- Consumer Product Safety Act
- Toxic Substances Control Act
Friable (easily crumbled) asbestos products present the highest exposure danger. They are expressly prohibited for sale or use.
Examples of banned asbestos products include:
- Commercial paper
- Corrugated paper
- Flooring and roofing felt
- Fireplace embers
- Pipe and block insulation
- Specialty paper
- Spray-applied ACM
- Wall patch compounds
Permitted Asbestos Levels in the U.S.
United States legislation permits other asbestos products if they contain less than 1% asbestos material.
These laws do not specify what type of products are banned based on the type of asbestos used, as all types of asbestos are dangerous. Regulations do permit manufacturing products that historically contained asbestos-like brake pads and clutch plates.
On the other hand, it’s illegal to manufacture “new use” products that didn’t previously contain asbestos.
Millions of American homes, public buildings, and factories were built with asbestos-containing materials. Most of these still stand today with their asbestos products intact.
The same applies to ships and heavy equipment, although massive asbestos abatement programs removed friable asbestos materials. Federal regulations specify strict steps workers must take to remove or work around asbestos products.