Many experts say asbestos is the poster child for everything that’s wrong with toxic chemical regulations in the United States. Despite the proven links between asbestos exposure and diseases like lung cancer, asbestosis and mesothelioma, the material is still used in the U.S. today. Even more shocking is the alarming rate that these diseases have afflicted U.S. citizens – reports estimate that, since 1980, more than 200,000 worker deaths resulted from asbestos-related diseases.
So why hasn’t the government stepped in and outlawed this known carcinogen?
While the health effects of asbestos have become more widely known and its reputation darkened, limitations in the Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA) – a 1976 regulatory law ensuring that chemicals are safe throughout their lifecycle – have left the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) unable to act on materials with known health dangers, such as asbestos.
The laws and issues at hand can be tough to navigate. Fortunately, there are groups like Safer Chemicals, Healthy Families who are advocating for TSCA to be reformed with safer chemical policies. Along this road to chemical reform, the group is helping break down important information, including a fantastic fact sheet about asbestos that they posted earlier this week.
The fact sheet illustrates why asbestos is a perfect example of the type of dangerous material that the EPA needs authority to regulate. The sheet has comprehensive information about a range of issues, including past attempts to ban asbestos (100,000 pages of evidence wasn’t enough?!), current regulations, health risks, and how asbestos fits into the larger TSCA picture. We’d encourage you all to check out the fact sheet in its entirety here.
A ban on asbestos is just one piece of the puzzle to keep our loved ones safe from dangerous chemicals, but together we can have our voices heard and make a difference!