The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has enabled the reintroduction of asbestos into the American manufacturing, as reported by Fast Company. The dangerous substance, outlawed in 65 countries, may now be introduced into the U.S via common household products and materials.
The development is the result of a “SNUR” (Significant New Use Rule) which allows asbestos-containing products to be petitioned and approved by the federal government on an individual basis.
The loophole has manifested due to a relaxation by the EPA in how it evaluates the risk of potentially harmful chemical products. Under the EPA’s framework, risk evaluations will no longer consider the effect or presence of substances in the air, ground, or water, offering a loophole to those seeking to reinstate asbestos-derived products.
While asbestos does not pose a direct threat to consumers, the danger of interacting with harmful asbestos fibers becomes pronounced for mine workers, building renovators, and those in close proximity to landfills. Once a common mineral in the construction industry due to its heat retention properties, the substance has since been strongly linked to illnesses such as lung cancer, resulting in outright bans on asbestos-containing products across 65 countries from the 1970s onwards.
While the U.S. has never entirely outlawed the substance, its use has been heavily restricted by legislation in 1972 and 1989. Despite this, it is estimated by the Asbestos Disease Awareness Organization that 40,000 people in the U.S. die each year from asbestos-related conditions.
News via: Fast Company