06

Jul

Why is asbestos still used in the US

Most people are under the impression that asbestos use of any kind has been banned in the US. Although various legislation over the years has outlawed mining the material itself, and overall use has declined significantly with the passage of time, many US-based companies continue to import both raw materials and products that contain asbestos.

In the US, federal agencies including the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) have been taking steps to regulate the use of asbestos since the 1970s. However, over the decades, the EPA and the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) have engaged in lengthy legal battles – and subsequent appeals – with industry giants as well as foreign governments over the reach of various legislation. This includes the Canadian government – at one point the exporter of 95% of the asbestos used in the US.

In a landmark 1991 decision, the US Court of Appeals sided with the industry. A decision was issued stating that the EPA failed to make a case that an all-out band would be the “least burdensome alternative” and setting a precedent that has not been successfully challenged despite mounting evidence of the harmful effects of asbestos.

Worldwide, over 50 countries have fully banned the use of asbestos, while in other nations such as China, Russia, and Brazil, its use has actually expanded over the years.

Today, asbestos is still used in some building materials in the US. Companies can lawfully import certain products that contain asbestos, and about 300,000 tons of it are brought into the US each year. OSHA defines “asbestos-containing materials” as any material that is greater than 1% asbestos, meaning that any product below 1% can be misleading labeled as asbestos-free.

In other industries, asbestos is also legally used in automobile parts such as brake pads and gaskets. Asbestos-containing products that have been banned include spray-applied insulation, wall patching compound, artificial embers, pharmaceutical filters, flooring felt, roll-board, commercial paper, corrugated paper, and specialty paper. It is also illegal to implement “new” uses or applications of asbestos.

A naturally occurring silicate mineral composed of long, thin, fibrous crystals, asbestos been used by humans as far back as the Stone Age to add resilience and rigidity to ceramic pots and, starting toward the end of the 19th century, as building material. It would be close to 100 years, however, before the harmful effects of asbestos were widely known and acknowledged.

Due to its crystalline structure, when asbestos meets with abrasion or friction, microscopic particles are released into the air, and those particles are then inhaled by humans. This can lead to serious lung conditions, including Asbestosis, Mesothelioma, and Lung Cancer.

Residential and Commercial Asbestos Inspections and Abatement with ACM
Recognized for excellence in the areas of abatement & asbestos removal, environmental remediation, and demolition services, for over 20 years, ACM has been built a reputation for elite performance driven by the highest safety standards. With a customer-centric methodology, commercial and residential clients rely on ACM for niche expertise and insightful recommendations. If you suspect asbestos on your property, contact ACM for an on-site evaluation with our in-house certified asbestos inspector.

22

Jun

The Lasting Effects of Asbestos on Your Body

Asbestos is a naturally occurring silicate mineral composed of long, thin, fibrous crystals. It’s been used by humans as far back as the Stone Age to add resilience and rigidity to ceramic pots and, starting toward the end of the 19th century, as building material. It would be close to 100 years, however, before the harmful effects of asbestos were widely known and acknowledged.

Because asbestos is an excellent electrical insulator and also highly fire-resistant, large-scale mining began in during the Industrial Era of the 1800s. Initially used to produce paper and cloth, the use of the material eventually evolved into applications for fire-retardant coatings, concrete bricks, pipes and fireplace cement, mechanical gaskets, pipe and ceiling insulation, flooring, roofing, and even lawn furniture.

It wasn’t until around the turn of the century that researchers first started linking health issues with long-term exposure to asbestos. The first death attributed to asbestos was in 1906, but it would be another 70 years before the hazardous nature of the material would truly be acknowledged.

Due to its crystalline structure, when asbestos meets with abrasion or friction, microscopic particles are released into the air, and those particles are then inhaled by humans. This can lead to serious lung problems:

Asbestosis – This is a chronic lung disease directly attributable to inhaling asbestos fibers. Symptoms of the condition include lung tissue scarring, persistent cough, chest tightness or pain, and shortness of breath. Typically, symptoms do not appear until many years after initial exposure. Cases can range from mild to severe. As the condition progresses, more and more lung tissue is damaged, to the point where it can’t contract and expand normally.

Mesothelioma – This is a rare and incurable form of cancer that develops in the lining of the lungs, stomach, heart, and other organs. Eight out of every 10 people who contract mesothelioma have experienced long-term exposure to asbestos. When fibers accumulate in human tissue, they cause inflammation and, over time, cause cellular changes that can lead to the condition.

Lung Cancer – This is just one form of cancer that can be caused by asbestos exposure. Approximately 4% of all lung cancer cases are asbestos-related. Asbestos has also been known to cause ovarian and laryngeal cancer.

Other Conditions – Long-term exposure to asbestos has been an attributable cause of pleural plaques (areas of fibrous thickening of the lining around the lungs); pleural effusion (build-up of fluid in and around the lungs that can cause difficulty breathing); diffuse pleural thickening (extensive scarring that thickens the lining of the lungs); pleurisy (severe inflammation of the pleural lining); and atelectasis (inflammation and scarring that causes the pleural lining to fold in, causing underinflation of the lungs).

A few additional quick facts:

  • It’s estimated that asbestos-related diseases kill 12,000 to 15,000 Americans each year.
  • This includes over 1,000 asbestosis-related deaths and anywhere from 8,000 to 10,000 cancer deaths annually.
  • About 3,000 Americans are diagnosed with mesothelioma annually, according to the American Cancer Society.
  • Worldwide, 66 countries have banned the use of asbestos.

Residential and Commercial Asbestos Inspections and Abatement with ACM
Recognized for excellence in the areas of abatement & asbestos removal, environmental remediation, and demolition services, for over 20 years, ACM has been built a reputation for elite performance driven by the highest safety standards. With na customer-centric methodology, commercial and residential clients rely on ACM for niche expertise and insightful recommendations. If you suspect asbestos on your property, contact ACM for an on-site evaluation with our in-house certified asbestos inspector.