Asbestos is a naturally-occurring mineral that has been used by humans for around 2,000 years. However, it was between the 1850s and the 1980s that asbestos was used in virtually every aspect of residential, commercial and industrial construction, as well as in countless production operations. This primarily began during the Industrial Revolution and continued until the EPA attempted to ban the use asbestos.
The reason we say attempted to ban the use of asbestos is because the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) regulations that outlawed asbestos use in the late 1970s was overturned by the U.S. Supreme Court as being unconstitutional a few years after it was passed. The reason being not that Congress couldn’t outlaw asbestos, but that EPA couldn’t do it through regulations without Congress first passing a law and the president signing that law.However, even though the law was overturned as unconstitutional, there were already other regulations in place, and, most importantly, the general public was finally aware of the dangers of asbestos for the first time in history.
As our Boston asbestos injury attorneys can explain, it was the fact that it takes between 20 and 50 years after a person is exposed that the industry was able to hide these dangers from the public, including those who were working directly with the deadly asbestos fibers. This was a time when there was not internet, and it was relatively easy for an industry to conceal things from the general public, as people had much less access to information in those days.
While asbestos is hardly used in the U.S., according to a recent news article from NPR, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control (CDC) still considers asbestos and asbestos-related deaths to be a public health concern. The reason for this is because thousands of people are still being diagnosed with mesothelioma in the U.S. each year, and thousands are dying from this disease each year as well.
As discussed in the article, in addition to the EPA regulations mentioned above, the U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) was successful in limiting how much asbestos someone could be exposed to while on the job. This was done in 1971. However, one thing to keep in mind is, while there is a maximum safe level established by OSHA, the EPA has not recognized any safe levels for exposure to asbestos. This means that unlike with radiation, the workers exposed to asbestos cannot wear some type of detector badge and will be okay so long as they only inhale or ingest a small amount.
The CDC has made this report after looked at various data from what are known as surveillance studies across the nation. A surveillance study is where researchers looked at medical records and records from medical examiners offices pertaining to mesothelioma deaths, but do not actually interact with living patients. They only look at data that has already been recorded, which is where the name surveillance comes from. Between 1999 and 2015, over 45,000 people in the U.S. alone have died from mesothelioma.
If you or a loved one is diagnosed with mesothelioma in Boston, call for a free and confidential appointment at (617) 777-7777.
Asbestos Deaths Remain A Public Health Concern, CDC Finds, April 11, 2017, By Rebecca Hersher, NPR
More Blog Entries:
Treating Mesothelioma and Other Asbestos-Related Cancers, Feb. 14, 2017, Boston Asbestos Exposure Attorney Blog