21st Anniversary of Asbestos Ban Being Overturned – A Look Back

Mesothelioma is a cancer that is often triggered by asbestos mineral fibers being inhaled and settling in the lungs. These very tiny fibers, lodge deep in the lungs and irritate the tissue, eventually causing scar tissue to develop, called Asbestosis.

Asbestos had been used for decades in many industrial and construction applications, from insulating batting used to wrap high-temperature steam lines on ships and brake pads on motor vehicles, to floor tile in millions of homes built last century in the United States. The usefulness of the asbestos, its strength and ability to resist heat, is also what makes it dangerous. Even after years of warnings, many people still may not understand the risk posed by cutting or drilling in asbestos floor or ceiling tile.

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) attempted to institute a broad ban on the use of asbestos products in the early 1990s, but the ban was quickly struck down by litigation. October 18, 2012 marked the 21st anniversary of the ban being overturned by the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeal. The Court was concerned with procedural issues of how the EPA promulgated the regulations that would have banned asbestos. The EPA strongly criticized the court for “significant legal errors” in the decision, nonetheless, the court denied a rehearing and the ruling remained in place.

The continued use of asbestos in products allows an ever-increasing pool of potential sources of asbestos fibers, and increases the risk that innocent victims, many of whom may still believe that all asbestos use has been banned, may one day receive the sad news that they have Mesothelioma.

Source: International Ban Asbestos Secretariat, “October 18, 2011: A Bloody Anniversary,” Laurie Kazan-Allen, October 18, 2012