The Asbestos Disease Awareness Organization (ADAO), reportedly the largest independent nonprofit asbestos victims’ advocacy group in the United States – along with the Environmental Working Group, a consumer advocacy group that empowers people to live healthier lives in a healthier environment – release a statement in response to new data showing asbestos imports nearly doubled in 2016, after years of decline.
Data from the Department of Commerce and the U.S. International Trade Commission estimates that 705 metric tons of raw asbestos were imported last year, compared to 343 metric tons in 2015. The U.S. Geological Survey reported asbestos imports came from Brazil and Russia. The only remaining user of raw asbestos in the U.S. is the chloralkali industry, which uses it to “manufacture semipermeable asbestos diaphragms,” according to ADAO.
Much of the surge in imports in 2016 came in the fourth quarter of the year, following the passage of the revamped Toxic Substances Control Act, or TSCA. Lobbyists from the American Chemistry Council, on behalf of the chloralkali industry, are now pushing for an exemption from the new chemical safety law that would allow it to continue to import and use asbestos just as it does today, according to ADAO.
The EPA is currently in the process of implementing TSCA, an overhaul that gives the agency broader authority to ban toxic chemicals, and under which asbestos is being evaluated for regulation.
“It is incredulous that, in the face of such harrowing facts, the chloralkali industry continues to peddle their ‘safe use’ propaganda to the EPA, the public and their shareholders,” says Dr. Richard Lemen, former assistant U.S. surgeon general and current co-chair of the Asbestos Disease Awareness Organization's science advisory board. “If the EPA does not put a stop to this environmental and public health disaster now with a complete asbestos ban, more innocent Americans will die preventable deaths due to bureaucratic inaction.”
For more information, visit www.asbestosdiseaseawareness.org