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EPA changes could cause more people to suffer asbestos exposure

For years, the Environmental Protection Agency has tightened regulations regarding certain substances believed to be carcinogenic to humans. One of those substances is asbestos, but recent changes in the agency's regulations could open the door for the toxic substance to find its way into new products. This means that the potential for asbestos exposure by a whole new generation of people could occur here in Ohio and elsewhere.

One change in EPA guidelines ends the policy of the agency looking at how a substance, including asbestos, would affect the air. This means that the agency will no longer look at how the substance entering the soil, water or public air could impact exposure. Instead, it will only take into account the effects associated with human contact.

Secondly, the EPA may start using a "case-by-case" strategy for reviewing potential new uses for asbestos and other substances. The language intimates that federal oversight may only occur after 15 new product uses, which could leave a significant amount of leeway for manufacturers. Even though these changes may make it easier for companies to use asbestos in products, it does not necessarily guarantee that they will.

Thanks to the efforts of victims of asbestos exposure and the legal community that represents them, the deadly repercussions of exposure to this toxic substance are well-documented. Even though its use has fallen out of favor, people here in Ohio and elsewhere continue to contract illnesses related to asbestos such as mesothelioma and asbestosis. Over the years, manufacturers, distributors and employers have paid out millions in damages to innocent victims. Hopefully, those financial losses will far outweigh any profit a company may make from reinstating the use of this toxic substance in products that could end up in consumers' hands.

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