Even though governments and businesses know the risk, the U.S. imported more than double 2017’s amount of raw asbestos in 2018. It was the most that has entered the country since 2013.
A dangerous and deadly import
Asbestos is a known carcinogen. The naturally-occurring mineral causes cancer, killing many people across the nation each year. The U.S. stopped producing asbestos in 2002, thanks to protests against the production and new laws controlling the use of this cancer-causing material. However, asbestos imports are alive and well.
Why is the U.S. importing so much asbestos?
In 2018, most U.S. asbestos imports were reportedly due to the chloroalkali industry. Chlorine, hydrogen and caustic soda are the primary products produced by this industry. While many companies are trying to use safer methods to create these products, asbestos is widely used in the manufacturing process. People who work for these companies are at a high risk of exposure to asbestos fibers.
Does the world need asbestos?
A substitute exists for nearly every product that once had asbestos in it. These substitutes have their own downsides. Some are more expensive than asbestos, but they are arguably less dangerous to the public.
Countries like Russia and Brazil produce hundreds of tons of asbestos every year. Most developed countries have some stored away in reserves, which makes it cheap and convenient to purchase. U.S. manufacturers can save a lot of money by continuing to use asbestos. However, the victims of mesothelioma and their families know the real impact of asbestos.