As lawyers who have seen, firsthand, the immense suffering innocent victims have undergone and the excruciating deaths they have experienced from asbestos exposure. It is difficult to fathom how, in this day and age, it could even be possible, but asbestos imports to the U.S. are surging on the basis of the Trump EPA’s signaling that it will do nothing to ban or even reduce the use of asbestos in our country. In fact, just the opposite. This EPA wants to expand the use of this terribly hazardous toxin throughout the U.S. Asbestos imports soared by nearly 2,000 percent between July and August of this year alone on the news, a terrifying trend that is sure to continue under the current administration.
In 2016, Congress passed legislation overhauling the federal Toxic Substances Control Act (“TSCA”), giving the EPA new powers to ban and restrict dangerous substances. Asbestos, which has been known for over a century to cause fatal cancers and is the only known cause of mesothelioma (one of the very deadliest cancers), was at the top of the list.
The legislative amendments to TSCA now require the EPA to consider all uses of a chemical when evaluating it for safety. However, despite this clear directive, the Trump EPA is ignoring this mandate and appears to be establishing a framework to eventually declare asbestos safe. This is an Orwellian nightmare scenario that has already had the ripple effect of bringing more asbestos into our country and potentially risking tens of thousands of additional lives.
The biggest winner so far in this public health gambit appears to be . . . Russia. Go figure? Russia is one of the largest asbestos producers in the world and it has been reported that at least one Russian company, Uralabest, has emblazoned its asbestos packaging with the face of Donald Trump. In response to the administration’s about face on asbestos. But the biggest loser here is clearly the American working public, who will almost certainly face new exposure risks themselves, and carry those risks home to their loved ones, through contaminated clothing and vehicles, for instance. According to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration, there is no safe level of asbestos exposure. So, every one of the fibers contained in the 259 additional metric tons of asbestos that made it to U.S. shores this past August carries the risk of potential premature death for Americans of all stripes. But I guess “thems the breaks” when it comes to “making America great again.”
Image courtesy of Pixabay.