Asbestos has plagued American workers for over a century since doctors first discovered its deadly effects in the early 1900s. In fact, insurance companies in the U.S. and Canada began increasing premiums while decreasing benefits to asbestos workers as early as 1908.
Though government regulators have known about the dangers of asbestos for over a century, its use remains widespread to this day.
Historical regulation of asbestos
United States lawmakers have considered asbestos regulations several times over the past century. This lengthy legal history makes it notoriously difficult to introduce any new regulations.
Lawmakers have understood the risks of asbestos for decades:
- In 1935, American physicians recorded the first cases of asbestos-related cancer.
- The E.P.A. conducted a $10 million study of asbestos in 1989. The organization ruled to ban 90% of products containing asbestos.
- Facing pressure from the asbestos industry, the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals in New Orleans overturned the E.P.A. ruling two years later.
- It wasn’t until 2002 that America closed its last asbestos mine.
- In 2007, the Ban Asbestos in America Act passed the Senate unanimously but failed to muster further support in the federal government.
- As recently as 2018, the E.P.A. announced that it was exploring new uses for asbestos.
America is, and always has been, the largest consumer of asbestos in the world. Employers expose millions of Americans to this dangerous substance every day, causing serious diseases including mesothelioma and cancer. All research from regulatory bodies indicates there is no safe level of exposure to asbestos.
A profit-focused future
American lawmakers have made it clear they are more concerned about the profitable uses of asbestos than American lives. It is unlikely that the current administration will exercise more concern or initiate any changes. Those with concerns about the health of family members exposed to asbestos have found legal recourse available with the help of a lawyer familiar with personal injury and asbestos.