In past articles, we provided some pretty sobering statistics that demonstrate the dangers associated with asbestos. Through the years, workers from a number of industries, including construction, shipbuilding, mining, and automotive repair – just to name a few – have suffered from disease and illness, such as mesothelioma, associated with exposure to asbestos. Unfortunately, we also know that the dangers of asbestos were sometimes known, yet hidden from workers. Fortunately, the law now provides a remedy to hold wrongdoers responsible for victims.
Now that knowledge is widespread of the dangerous nature of asbestos, many people believe that it has been banned. Such a belief is partly correct and partly incorrect. Luckily, the usage of asbestos is now regulated much more closely than it once was. However, asbestos is still used widely in a number of industries, and the Occupational Health and Safety Administration estimates that the number of people exposed to asbestos on a daily basis still exceeds one million. In this article, we will discuss this issue, along with some of the seminal moments in the legal history of asbestos.
Litigation and Bankruptcies
Asbestos-related litigation exploded in the 1980s and thereafter. In August 1982, Johns Manville filed a historic bankruptcy case. By filing a bankruptcy action, a company can obtain protection from creditors. The company had been named as a defendant in more than 16,000 lawsuits. Johns Manville was a billion-dollar, Fortune 500 company, and at the time was the largest American company to ever file bankruptcy. Many other companies would soon follow suit.
As more lawsuits were pursued by victims of asbestos exposure, more information came to light, proving that information concerning the dangers of asbestos exposure had been concealed from workers. Because it can take years for asbestos-related illnesses to develop, it is widely believed that litigation will continue for many years. Fortunately, in addition to the protections provided by the legal system, many laws have been passed to protect Americans from the dangers of asbestos. Below are some examples.
Relevant Laws and Examples of Banned Uses of Asbestos
Many laws are designed to help address the dangers of asbestos. Below are a few of those laws, along with examples of bans related to asbestos.
Toxic Substances Control Act
Congress passed the Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA) in 1976, which has since been amended on many occasions. The TSCA bans “new uses” of asbestos. This essentially prohibits the use of asbestos in products that did not historically contain it. Additionally, the TSCA also prohibits the importing, manufacturing, processing, and distributing of a number of products containing asbestos, such as flooring felt and a variety of paper products.
Consumer Product Safety Act
The Consumer Product Safety Commission plays a role in protecting the public from unreasonable dangers in consumer products, which can involve banning or recalling products containing asbestos. For example, asbestos is banned in certain fireplace products. Many products have been recalled over the years. For example, in 1980, hairdryers and heat guns containing asbestos were recalled. The Commission continues to investigate products that might be dangerous.
Clean Air Act
The Clean Air Act was established in 1970 and has been amended many times. The Environmental Protection Agency is responsible for administering the Act and has regulated and banned asbestos in a number of ways. For example, certain types of pipe insulation containing asbestos have been banned. Similarly, types of spray-on construction materials have been banned. A helpful link to EPA asbestos laws and regulations is provided below.
Call Us with Questions
If you think you’ve been exposed to asbestos, or have questions about mesothelioma or other asbestos-related health issues, please call us for a free consultation. Our experienced attorneys believe that all wrongdoers should be held accountable, and can help you understand all of your rights.