When Was Asbestos Banned in the U.S.?
Asbestos, a set of six silicate minerals, has been mined for more than 4,000 years. In more modern times, it became used in products for its heat-resistant and insulating properties. But as early as the late 19th century, people began to link asbestos with serious illnesses such as mesothelioma, asbestosis, and various forms of cancer. By the late 20th century, countries around the globe began banning the use of asbestos. With all of the negative consequences of exposure to this dangerous substance, a reasonable question is “when was asbestos banned in the United States?”
A Logical Question: When Was Asbestos Banned in the United States?
As early as 1918, the United States government noted a possible connection between asbestos exposure and an increased risk of illness or early death. Specifically, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics issued a report revealing a high risk of early death among those who worked with asbestos. The medical community continued to see a link between asbestos exposure and certain illnesses such as asbestosis, mesothelioma, and certain cancers. But not until the early 1970s did the U.S. begin to act on the evidence.
Early Bans on Asbestos Around the World
In the early 1970s, Denmark became the first country to ban asbestos when it prohibited the use of the mineral for insulation and waterproofing. Many other nations followed suit, with more than 50 countries having banned asbestos to date. Is the United States in that group? Sadly, the answer is “no.”
How the U.S. Has Attempted to Ban Asbestos
Congress has attempted to ban asbestos with limited success. Because asbestos has been used in many forms, both solid and airborne, each piece of legislation has tended to control a different type of asbestos use and exposure. In this way, Congress began enacting asbestos bans in the early 1970s, over time passing several different acts regulating asbestos use.
In 1970, President Nixon issued an executive order establishing the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). The EPA is a federal agency charged with protecting the environment and human health. To accomplish those goals, the agency is authorized to issue and enforce regulations.
Another federal agency also regulates asbestos use in certain ways. The mission of the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), part of the Department of Labor, is to provide regulations, education, and assistance with a goal of assuring the safety and health of workers. OSHA sets and enforces workplace standards on health and safety issues, including those regarding asbestos.
Finally, the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC), an independent federal agency, issues rules regulating the sale and manufacture of products in the United States, including the materials that can be used in those products.
Congress, the EPA, OSHA, and the CPSC have all issued various bans on asbestos and its use. Still, not all forms and use of asbestos are banned in the U.S.
So When Was Asbestos Banned in the U.S.?
Despite the fact that asbestos is not completely banned, federal law imposes a number of significant restrictions on the acquisition, use, and disposal of the mineral under different legislative measures. For example, the Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA) prohibits the manufacture, importation, processing, and distribution of these products:
- Commercial, corrugated, and speciality paper
- Flooring felt
In addition to the products listed above, the TSCA banned “new uses” of asbestos, prohibiting its use in products that have not historically contained the mineral.
Congress also amended the Clean Air Act (CAA) to name airborne asbestos as hazardous to human health. Today, the CAA bans the following uses of asbestos:
- Asbestos pipe insulation and asbestos block insulation on facility components, such as boilers and hot water tanks
- Spray-on application of materials containing more than 1% asbestos to buildings, structures, pipes, and conduits unless certain conditions specified under 40 CFR 61, Subpart M are met
And in 1977, the CPSC banned the use of asbestos in artificial fireplace embers and wall patching compounds nationwide.
Despite this legislative framework, states are largely free to decide on the implementation of anti-asbestos laws within their borders.
Asbestos Restrictions in Individual States
Federal laws and regulations have largely left states to decide their individual legislative paths with regard to asbestos’ legal position.
Most states, including Florida and Ohio, have undergone significant changes in terms of their law, with a view to reducing the sheer number of asbestos lawsuits brought to courts. Ohio, for example, has introduced a number of medical criteria for victims to be better informed when approaching the courts, as well as to assist employers being sued in asbestos claims.
Need More Information on Asbestos Restrictions in the U.S.?
Now that you know more about when asbestos was banned in the U.S., you probably have specific questions about the connection between asbestos and your potential legal claim. If you or a loved one suffers from an asbestos-related diagnosis, the asbestos attorneys at Nemeroff Law Firm can assist you in getting justice. For a free case evaluation, fill out our Contact Form or give us a call at 866-342-1919. At Nemeroff Law, we fight for those harmed by asbestos nationwide.