Asbestos Use Continues Even Though the Dangers Are Known

The health risks posed by asbestos exposure have been known for over a century, yet companies still choose to use and produce products containing the deadly substance putting employees and consumers at risk. Contrary to popular belief there is no ban on asbestos in the United States.

Early signs of trouble

Asbestos use began in the late 1800’s and it did not take long for adverse health effects to appear. In 1898, The Chief Inspector of the Factories in Great Britain classified asbestos as one of the four most dangerous dusts known to man. X-rays and autopsies began revealing lung damage caused by asbestos, and by 1918 it had become common practice for insurance companies to deny coverage to people who worked with asbestos because of the known health risks.

A multitude of asbestos and insurance company internal documents from the 1930’s have revealed their research and knowledge of the deadly nature of asbestos and, in some cases, decisions to keep that knowledge from the public.

Heavy use did not begin until the 1940’s

Even though the dangers were well known in the thirties, extensive use of asbestos did not begin until after World War II, when it became popular for use in construction. Asbestos has been used in every part of construction you can think of, including flooring, ceilings, electrical wiring, ductwork, and for decorative applications.

Asbestos laws

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) and the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) began regulating asbestos in the 1970’s, but with limited effect.

In 1989, the EPA issued groundbreaking regulations to ban and phase out nearly all asbestos use. This is why so many people believe that asbestos has been banned. It was, but the ban was overturned two years later by the U.S. Fifth Circuit Court of Appeal.

In 2002, a bill called “Asbestos-Containing Products Risk Reduction Act of 2002” was introduced, which would have restored most of the EPA ban. The bill was sent to the Committee on Environment and Public Works, but no action was ever taken. Senator Patty Murray, the bill’s author, reintroduced it in March 2007, as “Ban Asbestos in America Act of 2007.” It was passed by the Senate in October 2007, and has been received by the House of Representatives.

The long-awaited ban on asbestos may soon be a reality.

If you or a loved one has developed mesothelioma or any other asbestos related illness, please call or email one of our asbestos exposure attorneys today, or click here for a free case review.