Throughout the 1960-’70s and even into the ’80s, asbestos was widely used in both residential and industrial settings. However, use of this material was not without controversy. Even in the 1960s, scientists argued that the use of asbestos was dangerous as breathing in fibers from the material could result in fatal diseases such as mesothelioma.
Nonetheless, the material was cheap and companies argued that there was no suitable alternative for the uses it provided, so the idea of banning it came with a lot of backlash. This is an argument that was embraced by numerous major chemical companies, such as Olin Corporation, until as recently as April of this year. Many people are not aware that asbestos was never banned in the US because of the lobbying against it by the asbestos industry.
Olin Corporation’s new stance
Now, it appears that chemical company Olin Corporation has shifted its stance on its use of asbestos. In a letter addressed to the Environmental Protection Agency, the CEO of the company stated that it would support an asbestos ban if the company was given seven years to phase out asbestos materials that are already in use. The letter also stressed that “No asbestos imports into the U.S. are required past today.”
While supporters of an asbestos ban would like to see more drastic progress, the new stance of Olin Corporation is still encouraging. Co-founder of the Asbestos Disease Awareness Organization, Linda Reinstein, has said “We are deeply encouraged that Olin has stepped forward to publicly say they are committed to ending asbestos use in the chlor-alkali industry”.
The change in direction from chemical companies appears to be spurred by a spate of recent mesothelioma fatalities among workers in the industry. Unfortunately, more mesothelioma diagnoses are expected in the future because of the continued use of asbestos. If you or your loved ones have been impacted by asbestos exposure, seeking legal guidance proactively can be beneficial.