On March 18, 2024, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) achieved a historic milestone by finalizing a ban on the last type of asbestos used in the United States. This action aligns the US with over 50 countries that have completely banned asbestos, a carcinogen known to cause malignant (cancerous) and benign (non-cancerous) diseases.

The ban protects families, workers, and communities from the harmful effects of this toxic industrial material and is a significant step toward a safer future.

Chrysotile Asbestos and Industries

Chrysotile asbestos, or white asbestos, will no longer be imported, processed, or distributed for use in the US. Like other forms of asbestos, it has been strongly linked to mesothelioma, lung cancer, asbestosis, and other asbestos-caused diseases.

By law, industries are given time to switch to other materials. Chrysotile is mainly used in the automotive, chlor-alkali, construction, and textile industries.

Asbestos Diaphragms in the Chlor-Alkali Industry

Eight chlor-alkali plants still use asbestos diaphragms to make the chlorine and sodium hydroxide necessary for disinfecting drinking water and wastewater. These remaining facilities will transition to using non-asbestos diaphragms or non-asbestos membrane technology.

Six of the eight facilities must complete this transition within five years, and the remaining two will follow. The complete phaseout will occur within twelve years. This timeline was set to ensure the water purification efforts are not inadvertently impacted.

Asbestos Sheet Gaskets

The rule has a two-year phaseout for most asbestos-containing sheet gaskets, with exceptions related to nuclear materials. Asbestos-containing sheet gaskets used to produce titanium dioxide and process nuclear material will be banned in five years. This means the safe disposal of nuclear materials at North Carolina’s U.S. Department of Energy’s Savannah River Site can continue on schedule.

Workplace Safety Measures

Industries with phaseouts longer than two years are required to implement strict workplace safety measures and keep records. The EPA will ensure asbestos is properly disposed of in accordance with industry standards, Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) requirements, and the Asbestos National Emission Standards for Hazardous Air Pollutants (Asbestos NESHAP).

Previous Rulings on Asbestos

The EPA attempted to ban asbestos use entirely in 1989. This attempt was vigorously opposed by the well-monied asbestos industry. As a direct result of these industry maneuvers, Federal courts largely overturned this effort in 1991, but the ruling did uphold prohibitions against new uses of asbestos. While the US stopped all domestic asbestos mining in 2002, asbestos was still imported and used to manufacture items. In 2006, Congress updated the 1976 Toxic Substances Control Act, requiring thousands of chemicals used in everyday products to be tested and regulated.

Contact the O’Brien Law Firm

Asbestos has been around for generations and impacted the lives of countless people. Although the asbestos ban is decades overdue, banning this dangerous mineral will save lives.

If you or your loved one has been diagnosed with asbestos disease, such as lung cancer, mesothelioma, or asbestosis, contact the O’Brien Law Firm for legal help. You may be entitled to compensation.

Call (314) 588-0558 or contact us online today for a FREE case evaluation.