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Asbestos Use May Be Back

The unimaginable may be soon be happening. Asbestos may soon be allowed back into manufacturing.

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency appears to be opening the door for asbestos to be used for new uses in manufacturing. According to an early August article in Newsweek, the EPA made an announcement on June first to allow asbestos to be reintroduced under their “Significant New Use Rule” (SNUR).

The change would not remove existing bans, but instead allow asbestos use for new products including:

  • adhesive, sealants and roof and non-roof coatings
  • arc chutes
  • beater-add gaskets
  • extruded sealant tape and other tape
  • filler for acetylene cylinders
  • high-grade electrical paper
  • millboard
  • missile liner
  • pipeline wrap
  • reinforced plastics
  • roofing felt
  • separators in fuel cells and batteries
  • vinyl-asbestos floor type
  • any other building material (other than cement)

The EPAs move is surprising in light of the fact that there has been an ongoing movement to ban asbestos use entirely given its known dangers, which have been well documented for decades. The United States remains one of the few countries that has allowed its ongoing use.

The proposed changes under the Toxic Substances Control Act can be found on the EPA website.

How Will New Uses Impact Manufacturers And Individuals Who Develop Asbestos-Related Diseases?

How will the changes impact manufacturers and individuals who develop mesothelioma, asbestosis and other pleural diseases caused by asbestos exposure?

To use asbestos, manufacturers will need to provide the EPA with 90 days' notice of their intent to use it under the SNUR. Even if they receive the green light from the EPA, this would not necessarily shield them from future liability. Anyone who develops an asbestos-related disease should move quickly to talk with an attorney about their options.

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