Date:September 9, 2016
Asbestos is a deadly carcinogen, known to cause lung cancer and mesothelioma while killing an average 15,000 people a year in the United States. It is a group of minerals that occur naturally as a bundle of fibers, found all over the world. These fibers can be useful because they are strong, resistant to heat and many chemicals, and don’t conduct electricity. It is because of these qualities that this material has been used as an insulating material for hundreds of years.
Inhaling asbestos fibers is the most common way to be exposed. Although its use is not as frequent today as during the early part of the 20th century, inhalation is still a persistent risk. Any time a building with asbestos is demolished or renovated, it can be released into the air. At the same time, materials that contain asbestos can break down over time and also release particles into the air.
Where could asbestos be lurking in your home? Click here to expand.
Until recently the law of the land involving toxic substances was the outdated Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA) of 1976. This act provided the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) with the “authority to require reporting, record-keeping and testing requirements, and restrictions relating to chemical substances and/or mixtures.” TSCA included regulations for the production, importation, use and disposal of asbestos.
Unfortunately, the law hadn’t been revisited for 40 years! However, the Frank Lautenberg Chemical Safety for the 21st Century Act was recently signed into law. This new law amends and updates the outmoded TSCA by including stricter regulatory standards, and replaces TSCA’s old cost-benefit safety standard with a new health-based safety standard. This new standard opens the doors for the EPA to officially ban asbestos in the U.S., something it has been trying to do for many years.
Asbestos risks can be found everywhere, but there are ways to protect yourself and your children from exposure. Here is a brief overview, but click here for a complete guide to identifying and preventing potential risks.
Your employer should be following all Occupational Safety & Health Administration (OSHA) regulations for hazardous chemicals, but be sure to take your own precautions and report any unsafe working conditions.
Most asbestos exposure occurs during home renovations. If you’re planning on tackling any home improvement projects, protect yourself and your family.
At School and In Public Buildings
About half of all schools in the United States were built from 1950 to 1969, when this dangerous substance was a common construction material. The EPA requires all schools to inspect any asbestos-containing materials every three years, as well as have a management plan in place. You can request to see a school’s management plan at any time. In addition, you can keep an eye out for any possible contaminated materials, including: