The Truth About Asbestos

Asbestos use  has not been banned in the United States of America.

We are working to do just that.

EPA Asbestos Materials Bans: Clarification
May 18, 1999
I. Introduction:
* This clarification presents correct information with regard to the status of asbestos products
that are banned by the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) at this time, as well as
categories of asbestos-containing products that are NOT subject to a ban.
* The clarification is needed because EPA finds that there are misunderstandings about its
bans on asbestos-containing materials (ACM) and products or uses. Newspaper and magazine
articles, Internet information, even some currently available (but outdated) documents from the
EPA and other federal agencies may contain statements about an EPA asbestos ban that are
* EPA asbestos regulations fall primarily under the authority of two different federal laws and
their resulting implementations:
– the Clean Air Act (CAA) (e.g., Asbestos National Emission Standards for Hazardous
Air Pollutants, or NESHAP) rules, and
– the Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA) (e.g.,Asbestos Ban and Phaseout) Asbestos
* Note that the US Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) also developed bans on use
of asbestos in certain consumer products such as textured paint, wall patching compounds. For
more detailed information, contact the CPSC Hotline, at 1-800-638-2772.
II. CLEAN AIR ACT (CAA) Authority:
EPA Asbestos NESHAP BANS ON USAGE OF CERTAIN ACM (In Facilities Regulated by
the NESHAP Rule, Nov. 1990 Revision; 40 CFR 60, Subpart M)
A. Most spray-applied Surfacing ACM: *
– 1973 NESHAP, banned for fireproofing/insulating
– 1978 NESHAP, banned for “decorative” purposes
* The Nov. 1990 revised asbestos NESHAP prohibits spray-on application of materials
containing more than 1% asbestos to buildings, structures, pipes, and conduits unless the
material is encapsulated with a bituminous or resinous binder during spraying and the
materials are not friable after drying.
* The revised NESHAP still allows, on equipment and machinery, spray-on application
of materials that contain more than 1% asbestos where the asbestos fibers in the materials
are encapsulated with a bituminous or resinous binder during spraying and the materials
are not friable after drying; or for friable materials, where either no visible emissions are
discharged to the outside air from spray-on application, or specified methods are used to
clean emissions containing particulate asbestos material before they escape to, or are
vented to, the outside air.
B. Thermal System Insulation:
– 1975 NESHAP, banned installation of wet-applied and pre-formed (molded) asbestos
pipe insulation.
– 1975 NESHAP, banned installation of pre-formed (molded) asbestos block insulation
on boilers and hot water tanks.
C. Is there a NESHAP ban on troweled-on Surfacing ACM? No; that particular
application was not banned by the most recent NESHAP revision, which was November 1990.
A. July 1989 EPA rule commonly known as the “Asbestos Ban and Phaseout Rule” (40
763 Subpart I, Sec. 762.160 – 763.179)
NOTE: Much of the original rule was vacated and remanded by the U.S. Fifth Circuit Court of
Appeals in 1991. Thus, the original 1989 EPA ban on the U.S. manufacture, importation,
processing, or distribution in commerce of many asbestos-containing product categories was set
aside and did not remain in effect.
B. Federal Register, Nov. 5, 1993 (58 FR 58964), Factual determinations: “Continuing
restrictions on certain asbestos-containing products.”
In this FR notice, EPA stated its position regarding the status of its ban on various asbestos containing
product categories. The status is briefly summarized below:
Products still banned –
Six asbestos-containing product categories that are still subject to the asbestos ban include:
1) corrugated paper, 2) rollboard, 3) commercial paper, 4) speciality paper, 5) flooring felt, and
6) new uses of asbestos.
Products not banned –
Asbestos-containing product categories no longer subject to the 1989 TSCA ban include:
asbestos-cement corrugated sheet, asbestos-cement flat sheet, asbestos clothing, pipeline wrap,
roofing felt, vinyl-asbestos floor tile, asbestos-cement shingle, millboard, asbestos-cement pipe,
automatic transmission components, clutch facings, friction materials, disc brake pads, drum
brake linings, brake blocks, gaskets, non-roofing coatings, and roof coatings.
C. Federal Register, June 28, 1994 (59 FR 33208), “Technical Amendment in Response to
Court Decision on Asbestos; …”
Revised the language of the asbestos ban rule to conform to the 1991 Court decision. Contains
definitions; manufacturing and importation prohibitions; processing, and distribution in
commerce prohibitions. Also clarifies labeling requirements for specified asbestos-containing
products. (Note: these FR notices can be found on the EPA OPPT asbestos page under “Laws
and Regulations.”
A. BANS on some ACM products and uses remain at this time (April 1999)
What are they?
Under the Clean Air Act:
* Most spray-applied Surfacing ACM
* Sprayed-on application of materials containing more than 1% asbestos to
buildings, structures, pipes, and conduits unless the material is encapsulated with
a bituminous or resinous binder during spraying and the materials are not friable
after drying.
* Wet-applied and pre-formed asbestos pipe insulation, and pre-formed asbestos
block insulation on boilers and hot water tanks.
Under the Toxic Substances Control Act:
* Corrugated paper, rollboard, commercial paper, specialty paper, flooring felt,
and new uses of asbestos.
B. EPA has no existing bans on most other asbestos-containing products or uses.
EPA does NOT track the manufacture, processing, or distribution in commerce of
asbestos-containing products. It would be prudent for a consumer or other buyer to
inquire as to the presence of asbestos in particular products.
Possible sources of that information would include inquiring of the dealer/supplier or
manufacturer, refer to the product’s “Material Safety Data Sheet” (MSDS), or consider
having the material tested by a qualified laboratory for the presence of asbestos.
For further information, contact the TSCA Assistance Information Service at 202-554-1404, or
your EPA Regional Asbestos Coordinator for the state in which you live.


E X P O S E D: The Facts about Asbestos (April 3)

courtesy: Asbestos Disease Awareness Organization


Asbestos: Cover Up of a Century

By Kenneth A. Cook Co-founder and President, Environmental Working Group

Thousands of innocent people die while governments do nothing to prevent it. In Darfur it’s called genocide. In the case of asbestos-related deaths in the United States, it’s just a statistic.

Ten thousand Americans lose their lives every year as a result of exposure to asbestos. Our government could take action and ban the mineral, but it has not. A number of other developed countries, including all of Europe, prohibit manufacture and use of asbestos. In the U.S., however, it continues to be imported and used in a number of products that many of us encounter every day.

Industry has known all about the deadly affects of asbestos for decades but covered it up. Manufacturers and users did everything possible to conceal just how deadly it is, particularly for those exposed on the job. A few years back, EWG compiled industry internal memos and court documents highlighting just how callous and duplicitous the cover-up of asbestos has been. “…if you have enjoyed a good life while working with asbestos products, why not die from it.”

1966 memo from an executive of the Bendix Corporation (now part of Honeywell) The results of our investigation, including all the documents, are on EWG’s website:

*Ken Cook co-founded EWG with Richard Wiles in 1993. In the 15 years since its founding, EWG has earned renown for its innovative, headline-making computer investigations of environmental problems.

  1. B Klein
    March 8, 2010 at 8:53 PM

    Playing a dirty game: exporting asbestos
    Jeffrey Simpson, Globe and Mail – February 4, 2010

    Somewhere between a national shame and a national scandal lies USA/Canada’s export of asbestos.

    The federal government promotes asbestos exports – they have risen sharply in the past year – despite the fact that the use of asbestos has all but disappeared in this country. Why? Because scientists, governments, industries and unions have concluded that the product can lead to a variety of health-related problems and, in some cases, to death.

    Indeed, while the federal government promotes exports, a multiyear construction project is refitting the Parliament Buildings, among other reasons to remove asbestos. What our parliamentarians won’t have in their buildings apparently will be in buildings in the developing world.

    The reason the federal government will not stop defending asbestos is politics – Quebec politics, in fact. The asbestos produced in Canada comes from Quebec, from the Jeffrey and LAB Chrysotile mines that employ about 700 people. A large town in Quebec is even called Asbestos.

    No federal government has had the courage to say: Enough is enough! We’re not exporting to developing countries any product we won’t use at home for health reasons. Fear of offending Quebec has put a sock in the mouth of federal governments, and fear of losing a few votes has forced Quebec governments into acrobatic flights of hypocrisy to defend the indefensible.

    This week, Quebec Premier Jean Charest has been making headlines outside Quebec, attacking Ottawa for questioning his government’s intention to impose strict vehicle-emission standards. It’s all a lot of blah-blah because Quebec’s rules are going to be superseded by new national regulations in the U.S. and Canada.

    Beating up on Ottawa is good politics, regrettably, in Quebec, but it so happened that these attacks came from far away – from India, in fact, where Mr. Charest was leading a Quebec trade delegation promoting his province’s exports, including asbestos.

    It was reported in the Quebec media that asbestos represents 11 per cent of Quebec’s exports to India, a tidy sum of $427-million. Half of India’s asbestos comes from Quebec, of the chrysotile variety with fibres so fine they can penetrate some filtration masks and so enter lungs, where they can create a variety of health problems, including lethal ones.

    On the eve of Mr. Charest’s visit, scientists from 28 countries urged him to stop exporting all forms of asbestos. A hundred scientists said the province won’t use asbestos at home because it can cause death, while promoting it “where protections are few and awareness of the hazards of asbestos almost non-existent.” Even some brave scientists in Quebec, where criticism of asbestos exports has been often regarded as “anti-Quebec,” urged the Premier to act.

    But Mr. Charest said it was up to India to act if it felt asbestos led to health problems. He was accompanied by a representative of an asbestos lobby group that receives money from both the federal and provincial governments; his group, he said, gives information to asbestos users about its possible risks. In other words, caveat emptor! Meantime, it’s business as usual for Quebec’s asbestos exports.

    Happily, some elements of the Quebec media have been all over this story, slamming the Premier’s evident hypocrisy and noting how it tarnishes Quebec’s precious international image. But, by extension, the export also tarnishes Canada’s image because, Quebec pretensions notwithstanding, most people abroad don’t even know where Quebec is, whereas they do know about Canada.

    Ottawa is intimately involved in this dirty game, too. It even sends diplomats to international meetings to frustrate any worldwide action against asbestos. And Canadian taxpayers are soiled by this export of a dangerous product that is scarcely, if ever, used in this country.

    Face up to it: Canadians, in their moral superiority, might think our country has an unsullied international image, especially in environmental matters. The reality is that those in the fisheries business know how poorly we have managed some of our stocks. Europe and the rest of the world are utterly repelled by the slaughter of seals, and no amount of public-relations campaigning and political posturing will alter that reality.

    The tar sands are a growing PR nightmare, as is Canada’s weak greenhouse-gas emissions record. To these are added the ongoing export of asbestos from Quebec, exposing the province’s hypocrisy and tarnishing Canada’s reputation abroad

  2. B Klein
    March 10, 2010 at 1:41 PM

    Breaking News
    U.K.: Justice for Asbestos Disease Victims Requires Mesothelioma Research Funding
    The U.K. recognizes that society’s obligation and moral responsibility to remedy the tragic legacy of decades of asbestos use requires funding research to develop effective medical treatments. Will the United States follow?

    Santa Barbara, CA (PRWEB) March 5, 2010 — The Mesothelioma Applied Research Foundation today publicly praised the United Kingdom’s Ministry of Justice for its progressive and constructive new position on asbestos disease.

    Last week, the U.K.’s Minister of Justice, Jack Straw, announced that, along with the vast legal aspects of the asbestos cancer, mesothelioma, the government has an obligation to also address its medical aspects. With this announcement, the U.K. recognizes that the industrial legacy of asbestos, from which all of society has benefited, creates an obligation on the part of society and the government to help those who now bear the burden — suffering and loss of life from asbestos-caused disease.

    Therefore the U.K. government has committed to support a “National Centre for Asbestos-Related Disease, a collaborative network of funded researchers whose core purpose would be to advance medical research into the prevention, cure and alleviation of asbestos-related disease and primarily mesothelioma.”

    Not only would development of effective mesothelioma treatments serve justice, it would also significantly reduce the costs of litigation, death and disability benefits, and healthcare. Recognizing this, the U.K. insurance industry has also pledged £3 million towards the National Centre for Asbestos-Related Disease.

    “This is exactly what the Mesothelioma Applied Research Foundation has been urging in the United States the past ten years,” says Christopher Hahn, the Foundation’s executive director. “Mesothelioma and other asbestos related diseases are a fundamental problem of social justice. And a just solution to that problem requires medical research to develop effective treatments to end the suffering and save lives. It is encouraging to see that the U.K. is getting it; we hope the U.S. will catch up soon.”

    Mesothelioma is a malignant tumor of the lining of the lung, abdomen or heart caused by asbestos. Medical experts consider it one of the most aggressive of all cancers. For decades it was regarded as untreatable, deadly and hopeless; and so, in a sad, self-fulfilling prophecy, the need for research to develop effective treatments was mostly ignored. For the Mesothelioma Applied Research Foundation and today’s patients, their families, and the millions of Americans who in the last five decades have been exposed to asbestos and are at risk for the cancer, this is unacceptable. The Foundation believes in a cure for mesothelioma, and is committed to funding the research critically-needed to understand and improve treatment of it.

    In addition, the Mesothelioma Applied Research Foundation provides patients and families with the most up-to-date information on mesothelioma treatments, clinical trials and medical referrals. The Foundation hosts the annual International Symposium on Malignant Mesothelioma, which unites doctors, researchers, patients and families, legal advocates, interested pharmaceutical companies, union representatives and other concerned individuals to share information and advance meso research. The Foundation also leads the effort in Washington, D.C. to gain federal investment in mesothelioma research funding and to ban the further use of asbestos. For more information visit the Mesothelioma Applied Research Foundation’s website at


  3. B Klein
    March 15, 2010 at 1:40 PM

    Quebec Sells Mesothelioma Causing Asbestos

    Posted on Friday, February 12, 2010.

    Quebec’s Premier, Jean Charest, is coming under fire for continuing to sell asbestos to underdeveloped countries, particularly India, Indonesia and Bangladesh, despite the known health risks. Asbestos can cause mesothelioma, other cancers and asbestosis.

    In an editorial this week, Montreal-based newspaper The Gazette calls the Charest government’s asbestos policy ‘deeply immoral’. According to the news organization, Quebec exports some 175,000 tons of asbestos annually, despite the fact that the World Health Organization considers asbestos a serious health hazard and recognizes its link to most cases of the rare cancer, mesothelioma.

    The Gazette editorial argues that Canada’s asbestos industry is not an economic issue for the country, since it employs fewer than a thousand people, but rather a political issue. Nearly all of Canada’s asbestos exports come out of Quebec, which would likely be the only province impacted by an export ban.

    Asbestos is heavily regulated in Canada and efforts are being made to eradicate it from the country’s buildings. However, Charest defends the country’s stance on exports by maintaining that asbestos is safe when ‘handled safely’. But The Gazette calls the idea of safe handling in impoverished countries such as India ‘a meaningless abstraction’. The health impacts of asbestos exposure are severe. For example, mesothelioma has a median survival of only about a year with conventional therapies.

    Countries like India which important asbestos use the mineral for industrial applications, such as the manufacture of water and sewage pipes, packing materials, brake linings in cars, and in some heavy equipment. Although asbestos mining is banned in India, its import and its use are still allowed. According to a report released by the UK-based International Ban Asbestos Secretariat and several industrial workers unions, India is the world’s largest importer of chrysotile asbestos, the type being exported from Canada. The group warns of an asbestos-linked healthcare crisis in the coming years if the practice is not stopped.

    An estimated 90,000 people worldwide die of asbestos-related diseases such as lung cancer and mesothelioma each year. Both Canada and India have successfully opposed the regulation of international chrysotile asbestos trade under the Rotterdam Convention – an international convention that disseminates information on harmful substances.

    © Surviving Mesothelioma and Cancer Monthly. All rights reserved.

  4. Sasha Jensen
    May 9, 2011 at 4:48 PM

    Great article. The asbestos issue is an overlooked world tragedy.

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