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Asbestos ban will help those workers who haven’t yet been exposed

On Behalf of | Mar 21, 2024 | Asbestos & Mesothelioma |

Decades after it became common knowledge that exposure to chrysotile asbestos can lead to cancer, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is finally banning the importation and use of this material. The rule was announced on March 18, 2024, two years after the EPA proposed it in April 2022. 

The hopefulness of this turn of events was summed up well by Senator Jeff Merkley, who – along with Representative Susan Bonamici – introduced legislation that would have achieved this consequential outcome in 2006. Merkley observed in a release that “Today’s rule is a positive first step to give all Americans a future free of asbestos exposure – a carcinogen that has killed far too many… This dangerous substance has been banned in more than 50 countries around the world, and the United States is finally starting to catch up.” 

Yet, the consequences of exposure linger

While there is no doubt that this ban is a triumph for workplace safety, those who are suffering as a result of exposure decades ago – and those who will suffer as a result of exposure that may be occurring right now – cannot be forgotten. 

Additionally, Asbestos Disease Awareness Organization President Linda Reinstein is trying to get the word out that “the EPA rule does not restrict importation and use of five other recognized asbestos fibers.” She also observed in a release that “the rule allows an unnecessarily long transition period and creates inconsistent compliance deadlines for certain asbestos users, which will allow dangerous exposure to chrysotile asbestos to continue for years to come.”

As such, workers who come into contact with asbestos cannot yet let their guard down. And those who have already become sick as a result of previous exposure still need medical treatment, support and justice. 

Advancements in workplace safety tend to occur in fits and starts. And even when historic strides are made – as they should – it’s important to keep in mind that those workers who have not escaped their employment unscathed have rights and options under the law.