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Is asbestos banned in the United States?

There is a general understanding by folks in the United States that if a product is dangerous or hazardous to a person's health, steps will be taken to remove the item from the marketplace. We have seen this before with defective vehicles, dangerous foods and other substances that can jeopardize a person's health.

It would make sense, then, to assume that asbestos would be banned in this country. After all, we have known for decades that exposure to asbestos can cause mesothelioma, asbestosis and other devastating illnesses. And the fact that more than 50 countries in the world have banned the toxic mineral would lead many people to believe the U.S. is among them. Unfortunately, asbestos is not banned in this country.

In fact, recent reports indicate that more than 2.3 million pounds of asbestos were brought into the United States last year. This means that in just one year, more than 1,000 metric tons of asbestos came into the country to be used in roofing and chemical products. About 98 percent of asbestos that is imported into the U.S. is used for these purposes. More worrisome, however, is that the remaining 2 percent of asbestos is used for so-called "unknown applications."

Every year, more than 107,000 people die from asbestos-related illnesses. These illnesses can be prevented by banning the use of asbestos and giving people proper warning and protective equipment in the event that they are to be in an area that contains asbestos. Without safeguarding people from the dangers of asbestos, people will continue to die from these aggressive and devastating illnesses.

Until and unless asbestos is banned in this country, it will continue to put people in danger. Those who have been exposed to asbestos or have been diagnosed with an asbestos-related illness do have the right to hold negligent parties accountable for the exposure. While money cannot undo the harm that has been done, it can help victims and their families cope with the aftermath of such a tragic medical condition.

Source: The Center for Public Integrity, "U.S. asbestos imports condemned by health experts, activists," April 4, 2013

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