Asbestos Laws in the United States
Roughly 50 countries have banned the use of asbestos. The United States is not one of them. However, new asbestos use is rare in America. Two rounds of environmental laws heavily regulated the use of this substance.
Simple economics comes into play as well. Customers are less willing to buy asbestos since they’re now well aware of the health risks. These health risks include mesothelioma and other serious diseases, which are normally fatal.
Environmental laws and rules reduce the risk of asbestos exposure. But these laws do not compensate victims. Only an asbestos-exposure lawyer can do that. This compensation usually includes money for economic losses, such as medical bills, and noneconomic losses, such as pain and suffering. Additional punitive damages are usually available in these cases as well.1970s
In 1948, a thick cloud of smog enveloped the small town of Webster and Donora in western Pennsylvania. The cloud killed twenty people and injured some 6,000 others, roughly half the population of these two communities.
In response, after much debate, Congress passed the Clean Air Act in 1963. The initial CAA contained limited provisions. In 1970, Congress substantially revised and expanded the Clean Air Act. The updated CAA created the Environmental Protection Agency. The EPA, in conjunction with the Occupational Safety and Health Administration, established minimum asbestos exposure levels.
The acceptable exposure level, like the CAA itself, was basically a compromise. Although reliable science indicates that there is no safe exposure level, the EPA/OSHA rule permitted exposure under 0.1 particles per cubic centimeter of air.1980s to 1990s
Lawmakers and the EPA passed much more extensive asbestos-limiting laws and rules in the 1990s.
A 1989 EPA rule would have banned the importation, manufacture, processing, and distribution of most asbestos-containing products. An appeals court overturned much of the rule, but it partially took effect in 1991.
The Asbestos Hazard Emergency Response Act of 1986 banned asbestos in school construction and required asbestos monitoring in existing schools. However, this law is sporadically enforced. Congress allocated no funds for these inspections.
The Manville Amendments to a 1994 bankruptcy reform measure significantly affected asbestos exposure, or rather the compensation available in these cases. These amendments created a large bankruptcy victim compensation fund. Some thirty years after Congress approved the Manville Amendments, these funds still contain over $30 billion.
Perhaps the most significant asbestos control law of this era was a 2002 asbestos mining ban. This ban protected miners and also increased the cost of asbestos-laced products, making them less attractive on the market.Current Developments
Lawmakers have introduced several stronger measures since the 2002 asbestos mining ban, but so far, none have passed.
Two potential asbestos bans were proposed in 2007 and 2008. Both failed. A similar ban was introduced in 2019 and died in Congress.
There is some good news. A 2019 EPA rule limited the use of asbestos in discontinued products, such as some kinds of floor tile, non-cement building materials, and roof adhesives.Work With a Dedicated Attorney
Limited asbestos use is legal in the United States. For a free consultation with an experienced nationwide mesothelioma lawyer, contact the Throneberry Law Group. Virtual, home, and hospital visits are available.