In 2018, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) took a major step backwards in the prevention of mesothelioma and other cancers, with a new rule for allowing products containing asbestos. Experts believe that new uses for asbestos, despite the documented link to the deadly mesothelioma, will contribute to an already rising cancer rate worldwide.
Under the Trump administration’s proposed rule, asbestos-containing products will now be eligible for review on a case-by-case basis. Asbestos is not currently banned in the United States, but has been regulated under EPA guidelines since the 1970s.
Over 60 countries worldwide have banned asbestos. Notably, in 2018 several major health organizations had called for increasing the regulation of asbestos to further strengthen public health and disclosure. Now health professionals are facing an even more daunting task as they work to treat the deadly cancer, as asbestos use potentially becomes less regulated.
Public health advocates are expressing growing concern about this and other environmental risks that may be leading to increased cancer cases worldwide. The World Health Organization (WHO) states that cancer is the first or second most common cause of early death before age 70 in more than 90 nations, and is estimated to have caused almost 10 million deaths in 2018.
Asbestos was discovered to be linked to mesothelioma dating back to the 1940s, and in the 1970s the EPA began to regulate its use in American products and industry. It is classified by the EPA as a known carcinogen, since asbestos fibers, when inhaled, create a higher risk of contracting mesothelioma.
Asbestos was used in a variety of products as an insulating and heat-resistant material, and was prevalent in construction, insulation, shipbuilding, military applications, and automotive industries. Currently, it is regulated under the EPA’s Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA) and the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) because of its known cancer-causing properties.
The EPA’s proposed Significant New Use Rule represents a major change, and a potential reversal of progress in strengthening chemical and toxin regulations in the United States. The rule would allow review of new asbestos usage in products based on each individual case. The new rule would also eliminate the consideration of asbestos risk in the air, ground, or water.
Mesothelioma affects the lungs, heart, and linings of other organs. It is notoriously challenging to treat successfully, and there is no cure. It causes the death of nearly 40,000 people annually. Those who have been exposed to asbestos do not all develop the disease but are at a higher risk.
Mesothelioma is difficult to diagnose because its symptoms may initially present as minor, or can mimic other diseases. When serious symptoms do arise, the cancer can already be widespread, making treatments less effective.
Though there is no cure for mesothelioma, new developments in immunotherapy and chemotherapy are underway.
If you were exposed to asbestos in the home or workplace and have been diagnosed with mesothelioma, contact the skilled team of Philadelphia asbestos lawyers at Brookman, Rosenberg, Brown & Sandler for a free consultation. We have represented thousands of victims of asbestos exposure and we serve clients in Philadelphia and Delaware County, Chester County, Philadelphia County, Pennsylvania, and New Jersey. Please complete our online form or call us at 215-569-4000.