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EPA issues final asbestos rule

It is no secret that asbestos can be dangerous, and regulators have been aware of this for some time. Now, the EPA is finally moving toward stronger rulings on asbestos, but there are some who feel these rules do not go as far as they should. The main concept of the Trump Administration's ruling is to require federal approval for companies if they want to import or create certain types of products that use asbestos.

While that is an improvement, and does mean a stronger level of regulation, it does not go as far as it could have in protecting the public from a highly dangerous substance. Using asbestos in any type of product should be banned, say many attorneys and consumer groups, because there really is no "safe" level of asbestos. Any interaction with it could potentially be dangerous, and it is better to avoid it completely.

Why Was Asbestos Popular in the Past?

Asbestos was used in insulation materials for a very long time, and it worked well at its intended purpose. Unfortunately, it also had the side effect of causing a deadly cancer called mesothelioma. The asbestos, when disturbed, created tiny fibers that could be inhaled. When they got into a person's lungs they lodged there, and eventually they could cause cancer to start to grow.

This cancer growth typically took years, and because of that the connection between it and asbestos exposure was not made right away. Once doctors began to discover what was causing mesothelioma, they started advocating for the use of something else to insulate buildings. But asbestos was in a lot of other products, as well, including the brake pads used on a number of different types of cars and trucks.

Why is Asbestos Still Being Used?

The argument for the use of asbestos is that it is safe if the fibers are not dislodged into the air. However, there are no guarantees that this will not happen, even when it seems unlikely based on the type of product. The best choice would be to ban asbestos completely, so that it is not used at all and does not have the opportunity to get into the lungs of people who are exposed to it. When the EPA's new asbestos rule will help reduce the risks that people in the US face from asbestos, the ruling does not go far enough toward eliminating that risk.

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