Asbestos exposure has long been established as a significant risk to human health. It has been directly associated with malignant mesothelioma, as well as other types of cancer, asbestosis, and other diseases. Despite this, the Environmental Protection Agency has proposed a new rule for how asbestos’ safety should be evaluated, and health experts say that if the rule is adopted, it will increase the risk of asbestos-related diseases in America.
The fear of increased asbestos exposure follows the EPA’s proposal that no action be taken related to legacy asbestos that is already in the environment. Instead, the agency’s approach would be to ask for approval before any new uses of asbestos. Though the EPA claims that this protects the American public, it ignores the fact that a high percentage of structures that were built before 1980 included the use of asbestos, and that failure to address that asbestos leaves millions of people at risk for future illness.
EPA Approach Heightens Risks of “Third Wave” Asbestos Exposure
Asbestos exposure comes from many sources and has impacted people from all walks of life. Though the vast majority of people sickened by the mineral were those who served in the U.S. Armed Forces during the years between World War II and the Iraq and Afghanistan wars, there were also countless people affected by asbestos in the workplace and carried home on the hair, skin and clothing of family members – a phenomenon known as secondary exposure. However, now that many of the buildings that were constructed before the discovery of asbestos’ dangers are being renovated or demolished, there is a “third wave” of victims being impacted by asbestos that is already in place.
Because of the known risks of asbestos exposure, the mineral was included on a list of high-risk chemicals that the EPA was to review and evaluate for safety. Though asbestos victim advocates had hoped this would lead to the substance being banned in the United States, the Trump administration’s approach to the issue has dashed those hopes.