Asbestos is a naturally occurring fiber known to cause cancer. It may come as a surprise that although we know this fiber can lead to deadly cancers like mesothelioma, our government has yet to ban its use. It can still be found in products we use very single day.
That may soon change.
Why does the government still allow for the use of asbestos?
The United States government still allows for the use of a certain type of asbestos: chrysotile asbestos. It is used to make chlorine bleach and is found in products like brakes.
What has changed?
The government passed a law in 2016 that allows for more rules when it comes to dangerous chemicals and products, like asbestos. As noted in a recent piece by AP News, lawmakers intended the law as a way to provide clear and transparent rules. This is because many of the rules currently in effect are present at the state level. As a result, each state may handle things differently.
California provides a common example. The state requires manufacturers of certain products used within the home include labels warning that the product contains chemicals that can cause cancer, birth defects and reproductive harm on any of their products sold in California. A number of manufacturers have chosen to include this label on products sold throughout the country to make sure those that get to California comply with this law, so consumers throughout the country have likely seen this tag.
This new law would go even further. It would give the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) more power to act to protect consumers throughout the United States from exposure to dangerous, toxic chemicals. Instead of just requiring a label to warn consumers of potential exposure, it would ban the use of the material and remove the risk of new exposure.
When will this become law?
It is not yet law. It is currently a proposal and still needs to work its way through the system. If successful, it would take effect two years after approval of the final rule. We will provide updates as they become available.