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State considers stricter labeling of asbestos-containing products

To many people, asbestos might seem like a thing of the past. While thinking about its use might conjure thoughts about diseases that can develop from asbestos exposure -- such as mesothelioma -- most people might think that it is a problem that is unlikely to be encountered today. Unfortunately, this is simply not true.

Many buildings constructed before tighter standards on asbestos very frequently have large amounts of the substance in walls and floors. In many cases, building owners elect to leave the asbestos in place rather than remove it, provided there is not major renovation taking place. This could be a safer alternative as long as the asbestos is well-secured where it is.

It would also seem logical that new products that contain asbestos are not being manufactured and sold -- but again, unfortunately, this assumption is also false. Many home-manufacturing products contain forms of asbestos, usually labeled as "mineral fibers" or as chrysolite, which is a type of white asbestos. However, it is not generally required to be labeled at all.

In the state of Washington, the director of the Spokane Regional Clean Air Agency contacted a legislator asking that a bill be introduced to require products with asbestos to be labeled as such. The state senator -- who admitted he didn't know that such products were even legal for sale anymore -- agreed to introduce the bill, which cleared the Washington Senate with only two senators voting against it. The bill will next go to the state House and to the governor for his signature if it passes its next hurdle.

Source: The Spokesman-Review, "State Senate passes asbestos labeling," Jim Camden, March 15, 2013

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