Why is Asbestos Still Used?

Asbestos is a banned product that isn’t legal for most applications in the United States because it was halted due to its harmful effects. The term asbestos relates to six types of naturally occurring minerals with strength, durability, and even fireproof.

Since the beginning of the ‘90s, specific applications of asbestos were banned because of its connection in causing cancer throughout the body. In the United States, prohibited applications include flooring felting, corrugated paper, and more. Not every use of the product is illegal in the US, but it is entirely banned in countries like Australia, Iceland, and Germany.

Because of these nationwide bans in some places, it is common to see United States activists fighting for a complete ban on asbestos. It is still used in trace amounts in specific items, including more than a dozen commonly used products.

What Does Asbestos Do to the Body?

Once inhaled, asbestos stays in the body and damages the lungs. Asbestos causes cancer of the lungs, the ovaries, and mesothelioma which is a particular form of cancer attributed to asbestos. Although it is known to be harmful, asbestos is still used in the United States.

According to the World Health Organization, a worldwide ban is the best way to eliminate asbestos problems throughout the world. They report “the use (of asbestos) has declined 55% from its historical peak, but more than 2 million metric tonnes per year are still used worldwide.” Deaths attributed to asbestos in the United States is about 12,000 to 15,000 people annually.

Uses of Asbestos

Asbestos is allowed in to be used, as long as the product contains at least 1% or less of the material. The Environmental Protection Agency of the United States has banned many uses of asbestos. Some use still allowed in the United States are cement pipes, roofing felt, brake blocks, roof coatings, non-roofing coatings, friction materials, cement flat sheet, corrugated cement, and more.

#1 Vehicle Parts

Several parts on your vehicle include asbestos including brake pads, clutch parts, and even gaskets. The naturally occurring mineral provides strength and durability when used in some car parts. Mechanics need knowledge about products with asbestos.

#2 Insulation

Asbestos naturally occurs in thin, and long fibers. These fibers are a thermal insulator which keeps a home or office warm and safe from the outdoors. Asbestos is dangerous when breathed in, but insulation does not expose you to airborne fibers.

#3 Fireproof Clothing

Asbestos is naturally fire-resistant which is why it was popular with a high frequency in roofing, flooring, and insulation. While there are considerable restrictions on building materials, use in fireproof clothing at a low percentage just protects the wearer more.

#4 Construction Materials

Asbestos adds strength to cement and other construction materials. It is highly durable while also being affordable. When safely added to a mixture and treated adequately during use, cement lasts longer, costs less, and is stronger.

Why Are We Using Asbestos?

Even though it is known to be harmful to the body, why is asbestos still used? Simply put, asbestos used at a particular proportion has advantages which outweigh its disadvantages. If appropriately used, asbestos is a strong, flexible, durable, and insulating material.

Several organizations are working to adapt the current legislation on asbestos. Many fights for the complete elimination of asbestos from use in the United States.

Learn More About Asbestos

Equip yourself with the knowledge you need about asbestos. Professional certifications including inspector training, working training, and even supervisor trainings help you understand asbestos. It could also include the preparation of your custodial and maintenance workers for the proper performance of tasks.

Asbestos may exist in the building you work in, and it may be in materials you currently work with. Learn what you can to protect yourself and your employees!


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