Caroselli, Beachler & Coleman, L.L.C.

Despite exposure risks, U.S. asbestos imports on the rise

The 2012 United States Geological Survey (USGS) Mineral Commodity Summaries reported a 25 percent increase in imported asbestos. From January to July of 2011, asbestos consumption was 1,100 metric tons. From January to July of 2010, asbestos consumption was 280 metric tons less, or 820 metric tons.

Any amount is too much - the United States Surgeon General and the United States Environmental Protection Agency both warn that there is no safe level of asbestos exposure. Asbestos has been a known carcinogen since 1977. Asbestos injuries include lung cancer, mesothelioma, other types of cancer and asbestosis.

The risk of asbestos-related injuries increase based on the amount of asbestos to which a person is exposed. Any and all exposure to asbestos can lead to the development of asbestosis, lung cancer or mesothelioma. Even second-hand exposure, such as to the family of someone who was directly exposed through work or other activities, can result in terminal asbestos injuries.

According to Linda Reinstein, Co-Founder, President and CEO of the Asbestos Disease Awareness Organization (ADAO), "The asbestos industry has argued for years that importation and exposure has been decreasing." But, based on the USGS report, the opposite is now true. Importation of and exposure to asbestos is actually increasing.

Sixty percent of U.S. consumption of asbestos occurs in the roofing industry, according to the USGS report. The remaining 40 percent is consumed by the chloralkali industry and other applications. Reinstein called on Congress to join the 50 other countries around the world who have completely banned the use and importation of asbestos and asbestos-containing products because of their toxic effect on people.

Source: ADAO, "Asbestos Disease Awareness Organization (ADAO) Issues Statement on 2012 U.S. Geological Survey Report," Linda Reinstein, January 25, 2012

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