Israel to Completely and Totally Ban Asbestos – When Will America?

Another industrialized country has made the sane decision to ban asbestos. 

Israel is joining 55+ other industrialized countries that have totally banned the deadly mineral, which is known to cause numerous serious illnesses, including mesothelioma. The most notable holdouts to a complete ban on asbestos are Canada and the United States.

While Israel has had a de facto ban on asbestos since the 1980s, the Asbestos Bill would make asbestos illegal to use in any form and mandate the removal of all existing asbestos over the next 10 years. The bill was approved this week by Knesset Internal Affairs and Environment Committee and is expected to be passed into law in August.

While this is a step in the right direction, the process of removing existing asbestos is going to be no small task: the state of Israel is almost literally built on asbestos cement – a mixture of 90 percent concrete and 10 percent asbestos – a mix that was very popular in the 1950s and 60s for its high durability and low cost. Some estimates place the asbestos-covered area to be in the tens of millions of meters.

There is a sense of urgency here; it was once believed that only intense exposure to asbestos over many years could cause cancer. It is now believed that even small to medium exposures can be harmful.

We admit it – we’re buoyed by Israel’s decision. But we can’t help but ask – when is the United States going to follow suit? Over 10,000 Americans die from asbestos exposure each year. Shouldn’t there be more urgency and outrage in this country?

The last great effort to ban asbestos was Senator Patty Murray’s Ban Asbestos in America Act that was passed in the Senate in 2007, yet never became law.  Currently, many chemical safety groups and avocactes are urging Congress to revise the Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA), which might also lead to an asbestos ban in the United States.