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Asbestos Laws and Regulations

Asbestos Laws and Regulations Attorneys

laws-regulations-asbestos-industry At Rosenfeld Injury Lawyers, LLC, our personal injury attorneys advocate for citizens and workers harmed by exposure to asbestos dust and fibers. In addition, we seek compensation on behalf of our clients harmed by hazardous air pollutants.

Call our law office at (888) 424-5757 (toll-free phone call) or use the contact form today to schedule a free consultation. Mesothelioma compensation options are available to eligible claimants.

The Toxic Hazards of Asbestos

Although the hazards of asbestos are widely known, the U.S. still lacks comprehensive federal regulations or asbestos laws. In the past, policymakers in the country have attempted to ban asbestos but have failed.

The Toxic Substances Control Act bans some asbestos uses to enforce asbestos abatement. However, asbestos manufacturers can still use hazardous asbestos fibers legally in popular products, including roofing, brake pads, corrugated sheeting, and automobile clutches.

At the moment, two federal agencies are responsible for ensuring asbestos abatement, namely the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).

Handlers, contractors, and workers in any industry who use asbestos must be familiar with the federal asbestos regulations. Besides educating them on the proper disposal of asbestos waste, knowing about these regulations will also ensure their job safety.

Below, you'll find the information about asbestos laws and regulations in the U.S., along with most asbestos-containing products that can be legally manufactured and used.

Are Asbestos-Containing Materials Banned in the United States?

Over 50 countries worldwide, including Canada, Australia, the whole European Union, and the U.K., have banned asbestos use. However, is the mineral banned in the U.S.?

The short answer is No.

Historically, many asbestos use laws and regulations have either been rejected or partially accepted. Currently, the U.S. uses asbestos-containing materials present in the country and imports more from other countries.

The U.S. imported up to 750 metric tons of the mineral in 2018, as per the U.S. Geological Survey. It's common knowledge that asbestos can lead to several lethal illnesses, such as lung cancer, mesothelioma, and chronic respiratory diseases.

So, why isn't the government banning its use? The history of asbestos laws and regulations has been clouded with cover-ups, political meddling, corporate interests, and controversy.

Corporate interests often influence government decisions, so one of the most hazardous/toxic air pollutants is still used in hundreds of products in the United States.

History of Asbestos Laws and Regulations

Since asbestos-related diseases show symptoms decades after the individual is exposed to the mineral, the first reported cases were noticed in the 1960s. By the 1970s, asbestos-exposure diseases had become relatively common, attracting attention towards the hazardous mineral.

Thus, it was during the 1970s that the U.S. passed its first asbestos use regulations.

Clean Air Act of 1970

The Clean Air Act was America's first attempt to prosecute asbestos-related problems. Over the years, this law has been amended, bringing changes in the EPA's asbestos use regulations.

Although the mineral was still being used in different industries, its use became less common once federally identified as a harmful agent. The Clean Air Act included asbestos use laws to protect consumers and industry workers.

Toxic Substances Control Act of 1976

The Toxic Substances Control Act allowed the EPA to regulate commercial minerals and chemicals. Along with regulating new materials, the EPA could also ban existing chemicals detrimental to human health and the environment.

In 1989, the EPA banned most products containing asbestos. The "Asbestos Ban and Phase-Out Rule" aimed to ban the processing, importing, manufacturing, and distributing of most asbestos-containing materials.

However, the EPA's attempts were not fruitful since some corporations challenged their authority in court. As a result, in 1991, most of EPA's asbestos regulations were overruled.

At the time, asbestos was legal for industrial use, except in the following products:

  • Flooring felt
  • Specialty paper
  • Corrugated paper
  • Commercial paper
  • Rollboard
  • Any new asbestos use after 1989

However, the following asbestos materials were not banned; disk brake pads, brake blocks, gaskets, pipeline wrap, roofing felt, millboard, asbestos-cement shingle, friction materials, clutch facings, drum brake linings, non-roofing coatings, automatic transmission components, etc.

Asbestos Hazard Emergency Response Act of 1986

In 1986, the U.S. government started focusing on asbestos abatement in schools. As a result, the EPA was ordered to monitor minerals used in schools.

Under this law, all private and public schools are required to check their facilities for the presence of asbestos. If found, schools are responsible for removing the mineral from their buildings.

The EPA has specific guidelines to help schools in this regard.

Fairness in Asbestos Injury Resolution Act of 2006

The FAIR Act was proposed to address the issue of asbestos-related injuries. Its 2006 version aimed to address the matter in the following ways:

  • Creation of a separate division in the Department of Labor for asbestos-related injuries
  • Providing compensation to claimants
  • Determining the compensation amount as per the severity of injury or disease suffered by the claimant
  • However, the FAIR Act was not made a law.

Reducing Exposure to Asbestos Database (READ) Act

The READ Act is a piece of asbestos legislation that's more centered around the public. As per the act, awareness about asbestos-containing products will be raised by creating a database containing all asbestos products and potential hazards.

Since it will be publicly accessible, anyone can search for the presence of asbestos in a product by searching the model information or manufacturer information.

The Environmental Working Group and the Asbestos Disease Awareness Organization have endorsed this asbestos legislation. Unfortunately, although the bill was proposed in 2015, Congress has taken no action on it yet.

Ban Asbestos in America Act

The Ban Asbestos in America Act was the country's most comprehensive approach towards banning asbestos once and for all. State Senator Patty Murray introduced it in 2002. But, unfortunately, while the bill managed to pass the U.S. Senate, it could not go through the U.S. House of Representatives.

If passed, the act would have banned the processing, distribution, manufacturing, and import of all asbestos-containing products in the country.

Furthering Asbestos Claim Transparency (FACT) Act of 2015

In 2015, the U.S. House of Representatives introduced H.R. 1927, the Furthering Asbestos Claim Transparency Act, introduced by Congress by Blake Farenthold, requiring asbestos trusts in the U.S. to file quarterly reports concerning victims' names who had received trust payouts.

The quarterly reports also provide detailed information about the trust deposing claims for injuries endured by the victims exposed to asbestos.

The bill was intended to provide transparency using a trust system that was highly susceptible to abusing victims. However, an article in the New York Times revealed that the bill limits or dramatically slows down the ability of trusts to award financial compensation to victims exposed to asbestos through additional red tape when resolving asbestos claims.

The act requires that all details of financial settlements between asbestos companies and asbestos victims be reported quarterly, making information about asbestos victims public information.

Asbestos School Hazard Abatement Reauthorization Act (ASHARA) of 1990

In the 1980s, the Environmental Protection Agency began investigating exposure to asbestos in schools and assessing the risk to students and teachers exposed to contaminated construction materials.

The government agency recognizes the hazardous substances children and adults were exposed to in a school setting, leading to more risk studies and federal laws that entirely ban asbestos use in America. A few health regulations and laws that begin with that initial study in the 1980s leading to the Asbestos School Hazard Abatement Reauthorization Act of 1990 included:

  • EPA Estimated Asbestos Risk in Schools
  • Asbestos-in-Schools Rule
  • Asbestos Hazard Emergency Response Act (AHERA)
  • Asbestos Information Act
  • Asbestos Worker Protection Rule

Major Organizations Regulating Asbestos Exposure

When discussing asbestos litigation, the environmental protection agency is the first organization to come to mind.

However, three other regulatory organizations are also involved in ensuring asbestos abatement and are designated asbestos safety training providers in the U.S.

The Environmental Protection Agency & Asbestos Rules

The United States Environmental Protection Agency sets restrictions on discontinuing the use of asbestos and asbestos abatement projects involving residents with more than four units, including schools, commercial buildings, and residential buildings.

As part of the Asbestos Hazard Emergency Response Act, the EPA regulates asbestos-containing materials in schools under 40 CFR parts 9 and 721. The restriction indicates that:

"Pursuant to the Asbestos Hazard Emergency Response Act (AHERA), the Asbestos-Containing Materials in Schools rule requires local education agencies to inspect their school buildings for asbestos-containing building material, prepare asbestos management plans and perform asbestos response actions to prevent or reduce asbestos hazards. Public school districts and non-profit private schools, including charter schools and schools affiliated with religious institutions (collectively called local education agencies) are subject to the rule's requirements."

The National Emission Standards set the EPA restrictive guidelines and regulations related to asbestos-containing materials and schools for asbestos. The standards help protect and improve the stratospheric ozone layer and the nation's air quality.

The National Emission Standards also regulates hazardous air pollutants under the Hazardous Air Pollutants Safe Drinking Water Act that helps ensure the quality of drinking water in the United States.

OSHA & Asbestos Regulations

OSHA (Occupational Safety and Health Administration) is a federal agency responsible for protecting worker safety on any job that could lead to severe injuries caused by asbestos contamination. The organization's role is to protect workers and citizens in America from death or severe injury and ensure workplace safety.

According to the federal government, asbestos exposure commonly occurs in the ship repair and construction industries, especially during demolition and renovations. Since OSHA began fining companies that violate its guidelines, its efforts have reduced occupational fatalities by 65%.

Meanwhile, the illness and injury rates have also dropped by 67%. However, deaths due to mesothelioma, which is a result of exposure to asbestos dust and fiber, have remained steady.

NIOSH & Asbestos Regulations

The National Institute for Occupational Safety & Health was created to assure the workers' well-being and provide information and training to bring this vision to life.

Today, NIOSH works as a subunit of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. It generates information via scientific research. Plus, it produces data, studies, and publications.

As for asbestos regulations, NIOSH cannot enforce anything, but it has several resources and guidelines on its website to help auto mechanics learn how to prevent asbestos exposure.

In 2011, NIOSH also created a "Roadmap Document" used across the country to drive asbestos research.

WHO & Asbestos Regulations

The World Health Organization encourages industries to use alternatives to hazardous air pollutants and drives strategies to assure occupational safety in workplaces.

In 2007, the WHO produced an outline in collaboration with the International Labor Office for the Development of National Programmes for Elimination of Asbestos-Related Diseases. The outline had the following pointers:

  • Establishing that prohibiting the use of all asbestos-containing products is the only way to prevent diseases
  • Accelerate asbestos abatement by preventing exposure to the mineral
  • Improving treatment, early diagnosis, and research to deal with asbestos exposure in a better way

Moreover, the World Health Organization (WHO) also pushes for a global asbestos ban. Maria Neira, the Director of Public Health and Environment at the WHO, says that it's possible to prevent hundreds of thousands of cancer cases annually by preventing the use of known causes, such as asbestos and other health hazards.

The organization is bent on making workplaces free of any hazardous/toxic air pollutants or carcinogens.

United States Department of Labor

The United States Department of Labor regulations relating to workplace hazards set strict guidelines on removing, encapsulating, enclosing, repairing, and disturbing friable and non-friable asbestos. In addition, based on federal law, the safety regulations also set strict guidelines on handling hazardous waste asbestos products that could result in a release of asbestos fiber.

Many states, including New York, file the same strict guidelines as the U.S. Department of Labor concerning how to handle a hazardous substance. For example, in New York, the Department of Environmental Conservation Waste Transporter Permits utilizes an asbestos transportation tracking system to regulate waste transport and permits when handling asbestos material.

State Asbestos Laws

Besides the federal legislation on asbestos use and abatement, state regulations can also govern the asbestos industry. Different states have varying laws about asbestos-containing material and asbestos removal.

For instance, New Jersey has entirely banned asbestos use, being the only state to do so. On the other hand, several states charge hefty fines on asbestos use.

For example, Kansas fines $5,000 for each asbestos offense, while in Hawaii, those in violation of the asbestos use laws are fined $10,000.

In New York City, the NYC Department of Environmental Protection controls products from the asbestos industry, regulating all asbestos abatement activities within the New York City boroughs. The regulations involve business owners where asbestos abatement activity occurs while contractors are engaged in asbestos abatement activities.

Likewise, different authorities oversee asbestos laws in individual states. For example, in Arizona, the Arizona Department of Environmental Quality is responsible for the job, while the California EPA and the Department of Public Health oversee this duty in California.

The Florida legislative body adopted the Asbestos and Silica Compensation Fairness Act of 2005, creating Florida asbestos laws to reduce asbestos lawsuits filed by injured victims. Therefore, if you want to file an asbestos compensation claim, check your local laws first.

Proposed Legislation From Federal Lawmakers for Removing Asbestos Not Likely to Come Soon

As for now, asbestos materials are not banned in the U.S., and there is no hope of this happening soon either. As a result, environmental crimes and land disposal issues are likely to continue until emission standards for hazardous air pollution are enacted to ensure public safety.

However, workers or the public suffering from any asbestos injury can claim compensation. Hopefully, the asbestos abatement industry practices will take full force in the coming years, ridding Americans of this carcinogenic mineral.

Hire a Mesothelioma Injury Attorney to Handle Your Personal Injury Case

Were you exposed to asbestos dust and fibers and developed severe injuries? Are you concerned that the statute of limitations is about to expire in filing a compensation claim?

The personal injury attorneys at Rosenfeld Injury Lawyers, LLC have resolved many mesothelioma and asbestos injury cases and can help you too. Call our law office at (888) 424-5757 (toll-free phone call) or use the contact form today to schedule a free consultation.

All confidential or sensitive information you share with our attorneys remains private through an attorney-client relationship. In addition, we provide every client a "No Win/No Fee" Guarantee. This promise ensures you pay nothing until we have obtained financial compensation on your behalf.

All family members who lost a loved one from asbestos exposure can file a wrongful death lawsuit to seek justice and financial compensation. Compensation typically includes monetary recovery of all hospitalization costs, medical expenses, lost wages, future lost earnings, loss of familial support, funeral & burial costs, grief, mental anguish, pain, and suffering.

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Many mesothelioma patients have already resolved their million-dollar cases in federal and state courts. Call our law office today to get one step closer to negotiating your compensation settlement.

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