The scientific community and mesothelioma advocates are expressing alarm following a change to United States environmental protection policy under new asbestos regulations issued by the Environmental Protection Agency. Though the Trump administration insists that their new rules are not designed to make things easier on the chemical industry and asbestos companies, those who have been fighting for an asbestos ban for years say that it would be naive to believe it is anything else – and that the new changes represent significant health hazards.
The chemical industry has been fighting against an asbestos ban as long as health advocates have fought for it: essentially ever since it was revealed that the mineral was carcinogenic and caused malignant mesothelioma, asbestosis, and other asbestos-related diseases. Though the material is valued for its strength and heat resistance, it breaks down easily into microscopic fibers that are easily inhaled or ingested and then wreak havoc within the body. The majority of developed countries have banned the substance outright, but powerful lobbyists have managed to fight that in the United States. President Trump is historically supportive of asbestos use, and health advocates fear that this new regulation will open the door to renewed chances of exposure among workers and the public.
Speaking of his concerns, Dornsife School of Public Health at Drexel University professor and adviser to Philadelphia’s Air Pollution Control Board Arthur L. Frank said that the new asbestos rules are “nothing short of outrageous.” After 50 years of studying asbestos’ role in mesothelioma, Frank visited the EPA to protest the changes, but he says that it was “very clear that they … had very little interest in what any of us had to say.” Though the health risk of mesothelioma and lung cancer will continue to be considered by the EPA under the new rules, other cancers that have been associated with its use will not be, and neither will legacy exposures to the material. “I have no problem [with the fact] that they don’t want to worry about the skin” as an exposure route, Frank said. “However, there is evidence both from inhalation and ingestion that asbestos can get into many, many organs in the body. This data shows that asbestos has the ability to cross the placenta and enter the unborn baby.”
Anybody who has been touched by mesothelioma understands the dangers of asbestos. If you or someone you love has been diagnosed with an asbestos-related disease and you need support, contact us today at 1-800-966-2244.