You Ask, We Tell Part 1: Asbestos is STILL Imported into the US — For What?

June 18, 2014

Many of the facts surrounding asbestos and mesothelioma are hard to believe.

For instance: Asbestos is the cause of the deadly cancer known as mesothelioma — yet, despite this fact, asbestos is still used and imported into the United States everyday.

We know you all scratched your heads when you heard that one — so did we. And then you started asking us why. Why is asbestos still imported into our country? And since asbestos is so lethal, why is asbestos still being used, at all?

That’s one of the most common questions we hear: Why?

With our new You Ask, We Answer blog series, we will try to get the bottom of the why’s surrounding asbestos and mesothelioma, because the sooner we can educate ourselves on asbestos and mesothelioma, the sooner we can stand up together to put an end to the unnecessary deaths and heartache.

Here’s to our first Big Question: WHY is asbestos still imported into the United States, and for what products?

The quick answer is that asbestos is still not banned in the United States, so companies can still choose to take advantage of asbestos as a cheap yet durable and fire-proof material – no matter the risks.

In 1989 there was a ruling issued by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) that banned most products that contained asbestos; however the ruling was overturned in 1991 after pressure from the asbestos industry.

Because of the risk of mesothelioma, asbestos use has declined in the United States — to a significant degree. However, asbestos is still used, and legally so, in a variety of products and buildings including: roofing compounds for commercial buildings, gaskets and vehicle products including brake shoes and clutches. Much of this asbestos is imported into the United States from Russia, Brazil, China and Kazakhstan.

The last asbestos mine in the United States closed in 2002. That ended more than a century of asbestos production within our country. And that’s great! Yet there is more to go. Until we can ban asbestos use and importation in the United States, we will not be sleeping soundly.