The amount of cancer-causing asbestos imported into the United States is “surging” when it should be banned, say two non-governmental organizations, “a major indicator that industry is not concerned about President Trump and the EPA taking any steps to ban or even reduce the use and import of asbestos.”
More than 550 metric tons of asbestos has been imported into the U.S. so far this year, up from 340 tons in all of 2017, according to data from the U.S. International Trade Commission and the Department of Commerce, and published by the Asbestos Disease Awareness Organization (ADAO) and the Environmental Working Group (EWG).
“The jumps seem to correlate with elections where companies might think a change in Congress or the presidency will impact their ability to import – like right before the 2016 election and now leading up to a likely change in House leadership,” the groups’ spokesperson, Sam Nurick, told industry publication Chemical Watch.
Asbestos is a mineral that is both strong and fire resistant, which made its microscopic fibers ideal for materials used in construction, shipbuilding and friction. But it has been known for decades that asbestos exposure can cause serious health issues like lung cancer and a rare type of cancer called mesothelioma. In the 1980s, the U.S. finally restricted the use of asbestos. Since then, more than 60 countries have banned the use and import of asbestos.
The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), under the Trump administration, however, has issued a significant new use rule, which will allow new uses of asbestos. Manufacturers have apparently taken note, importing as much as 272 metric tons of the carcinogenic mineral in the month of August alone, according to the import data.
“It is appalling that unlike more than 60 nations around the world, the U.S. not only fails to ban asbestos, but allows imports to increase,” said Linda Reinstein, president and co-founder of ADAO. “The time is now for the EPA to say no to the asbestos industry and finally ban asbestos without exemptions.”
Source: Chemical Watch