Despite widespread public perception to the contrary, asbestos – a deadly carcinogenic mineral – is still legal and still used in the United States.
As Sonya Lunder, senior analyst at the nonprofit Environmental Working Group (EWG) writes in a recent EnviroBlog post, this is a tragic and unacceptable situation.
Asbestos killed her grandfather, Roger Thomas Lunder in 2000, decades after he retired from the construction work that led to his exposure. In 1986, he was diagnosed with asbestosis, and for the next 14 years his lungs slowly lost their ability to draw oxygen. “He spent his last years of life tethered to an oxygen tank, fighting the steady anxiety of never drawing a full breath,” she writes. “’It feels like I am drowning,’ he told me. It was a terrible way to end an otherwise peaceful life.”
At the time of Roger Thomas Lunder’s death, there was already evidence that asbestos exposure caused deadly illnesses such as mesothelioma cancer and asbestosis. In 1979, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency made a failed first attempt to ban asbestos. The agency tried again in 1986 with more success, but the agency’s victory in obtaining a ban on asbestos-containing materials in automobile brakes, roofing, pipes, and building insulation was short lived. Manufacturers of products made with asbestos sued and in 1991 the ban was overturned.
Lunder notes that while a successful 1989 ban would not have saved her grandfather’s life, it could help save the lives of the estimated 10,000 Americans who die every year of an asbestos-related disease. Today, 54 nations have banned asbestos; the United States is not one of them. Instead, asbestos is still imported into the country. As this blog noted, the U.S. Geological Survey estimates that more than 2.3 million pounds (or 1,060 metric tons) of asbestos were imported into the U.S. from Brazil in 2012.
Like so many other Americans who lost a beloved family member to asbestos, Lunder wants not only justice for her grandfather but decisive action from U.S. lawmakers. This is why she, along with the EWG, supports an overhaul of the Chemical Safety Improvement Act, which currently contains no clear path to ban asbestos.
Sokolove Law also supports the fight to ban asbestos. If you or a loved one has been exposed to asbestos and have been diagnosed with mesothelioma, you may be entitled to compensation. Contact us today to learn more about your legal options and to find out if an asbestos attorney can help you.