Most Americans assume that asbestos, the mineral that causes malignant mesothelioma, was banned in the U.S. years ago. Unfortunately, that is not the case. The United States lags behind dozens of developed countries that have completely banned the material’s use, including our neighbor to the north, Canada. The carcinogenic material is still in use, though in a much more limited way, in the chemical industry, in construction materials, and in other applications including brake pads. It is also still in place from when it was more widely used. What this means for Americans is that they are constantly at risk for exposure, whether they are mechanics responsible for grinding or replacing imported brake pads that are still being made using asbestos, teachers exposed to asbestos insulation in the school buildings in which they teach, or construction workers renovating homes built with asbestos-contaminated materials.
As American citizens continue to be diagnosed with malignant mesothelioma and other asbestos-related diseases, little is being done to prevent future exposure, or to stop the U.S. from continuing to import it for the chemical industry. Even a recent move by Congress to introduce a ban is likely to run into a roadblock from the Trump administration’s Environmental Protection Agency, which has recently loosened regulation of the deadly mineral’s use.
In the meantime, in the face of rising mesothelioma rates and the impact of other asbestos-related diseases, Canada successfully passed a ban of asbestos that went into effect at the end of 2018. The country is now working to get rid of asbestos in place, whether on the shelves of automotive supply companies or within the walls of existing structures, and despite the costs and extra effort involved, Canadians are praising the effort. Rick Jamieson, the president of an Ontario-based brake pad manufacturer called ABS Friction that has never used asbestos, said, “It’s long overdue and it’s quite remarkable how long, politically, it took to make it happen. It’s a lot like smoking. People deny the real effects of it until the evidence is overwhelming.”
The country’s asbestos material suppliers are now working to eliminate the mesothelioma-causing products from their shelves. Unable to sell it or simply dispose of it, they need to contact specified, licensed asbestos removal companies that are tasked with sealing it and transporting it to dedicated asbestos disposal sites.
The question now is whether concerns over mesothelioma will drive similar action in the United States. Canada was the 66th country in the world to take conclusive action to ban asbestos, and advocates are working to make it happen in the U.S. too. In the meantime, those who have already been affected by the carcinogenic material can pursue justice in the American legal system. For information on how we can help, contact us at 1-800-966-2244.