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Senators: Permanent Asbestos Ban Needed

Today, most everyone is aware of the dangers of asbestos to people who inhale the deadly asbestos fibers. While they may not know the exact manner in which people get sick or the difference between mesothelioma and lung cancer, people know inhaling this toxic substance can be fatal.

gavel21.jpgMost people are aware asbestos and all asbestos-containing products were entirely banned in the United States at some point in the 1970s. What they may not know is the ban on asbestos products was actually found unconstitutional by the United States Supreme Court (SCOTUS) and is no longer in effect.

According to a recent feature from The Western News, two United States Senators from the state of Montana stressed the need for a permanent ban on asbestos and asbestos products at the federal level. As our Boston asbestos exposure attorneys can explain, the reason people in Montana are so concerned about asbestos is because their state was a major source of mining for asbestos and vermiculite, and the old mines have left much of the state in a state of toxic ruin. Some areas have been declared an Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Superfund area to facilitate the massive cleanup effort that has been ongoing for years to return the land and water to safe levels.

Even though the Libby asbestos mine is closed, and the EPA is trying to clean up the area, asbestos is still being mined in other nations with less restrictive health regulations and environmental laws, and asbestos products are still being used as components in American manufactured operations. Even with the new regulations in place designed to solve the problem after the ban was overturned, there are still some uses for asbestos that are permissible. These uses include auto parts and construction materials.

The current regulations allow for asbestos to be used in these certain products if they contain less than a certain percent of the material, but this does not mean they are safe, nor does it mean workers are not being exposed, and people around the world are not being exposed to asbestos mining.

One of the reasons auto parts have long contained asbestos fibers is because the material is relatively cheap to manufacture and works exceedingly well at resisting heat and corrosive chemicals. Brake pads, for example, need to be made from a material that will not break down when exposed to high amounts of heat. When brakes are engaged, they generate a tremendous amount of friction, as this is the primary mechanism by which they stop a wheel from turning. However, that heat can cause the brake pad to smolder and light on fire, or, in commercial vehicles with more powerful air brakes, the brake pads can turn into a spongy material and fail completely when they get too hot.

There are, of course, other materials that can be used to block heat, such as Kevlar, Nomex, and advanced ceramics often used in NASA heat shields and body armor, but these materials are much more expensive than asbestos.

If you have been diagnosed with mesothelioma in Boston, call for a free and confidential appointment at 1-888-367-2900.

Additional Resources:

Senators need to work for permanent asbestos ban, May 1, 2015, The Western News
More Blog Entries:
Mesothelioma Lawsuits for Shipyard Workers, July 30, 2014, Boston Mesothelioma Lawyers Blog