New Regulations for Chemical Safety Take Aim at Asbestos

There is a degree of uncertainty over the future of various environmental regulations and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) in the new Donald Trump administration. Still, the agency recently selected its first 10 chemicals to review under the newly-enacted Frank R. Lautenberg Chemical Safety Act for the 21st Century.  This was the first major change to the nation’s 1976 toxic materials law since the original bill was enacted nearly 40 years ago.

asbestosThe measure allows the EPA to perform a review on a number of chemicals the agency selects to determine if they should be banned.  For the purposes of this act, asbestos is considered a chemical since it is a naturally occurring mineral made up of six different types of silica elements.  According to a recent news article form the Environmental Working Group, the EPA chose asbestos and the other nine chemicals based upon the fact they are all considered highly hazardous to humans.  Other chemicals on the list include PERC (used in dry cleaning) and TCE (featured in the movie and book “A Civil Action).As discussed in this article, while many people think asbestos was banned many years ago, that is not actually the case.  The EPA attempted to ban asbestos in the 1980s, but the asbestos industry filed a lawsuit claiming the phase-out ban was unconstitutional.  The U.S. Supreme court determined that in these cases, the EPA was required to look for the least burdensome alternative to protect public health, and they had failed to do so, so the ban was actually overturned.  To this day, asbestos is still manufactured and imported and used in construction materials and even auto parts.  It is issued much less, however, due to the fact that the general public is now aware of how toxic asbestos is when ingested or inhaled.

While they allow asbestos to be used in small quantities, unlike with other toxic substances, there is no maximum safe level in terms of asbestos exposure. This means that, according to the EPA, any amount of asbestos is deadly and should be banned. This is easy to see, as the agency estimated that as many as 15,000 Americans will die from malignant mesothelioma and other asbestos-related diseases.

Another disease that our Boston asbestos exposure attorneys have seen in cases, and the EPA is concerned about, is known as asbestosis.  Asbestosis is a disease that occurs when a person inhales the deadly asbestos fibers, and they result in scarring to the lung tissue.  This results in pain and suffering and severe difficulty breathing.  A victim will be required to use an oxygen tank and will experience shortness of breath and other complications. The symptoms of asbestos are similar to those suffered by victims of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) that is often associated with smoking cigarettes.  Asbestosis can be deadly when not treated properly or if secondary infections occur, as is the case with COPD.

If you or a loved one is diagnosed with mesothelioma in Boston, call for a free and confidential appointment at (617) 777-7777.

Additional Resources:

Under New Safety Law, EPA Picks First 10 Chemicals for Review, December 7, 2016, EWG

More Blog Entries:

Rondon v. Hennessy Industries, Inc. – “Inevitable Use” Standard in Asbestos Litigation, July 2, 2016, Boston Mesothelioma Attorney Blog

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