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Asbestos: Still a Threat
A 2017 report, published in the Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report by the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), concluded that the “annual number of malignant mesothelioma deaths from exposure to the mineral asbestos remains substantial”. The report pointed out the need for further restrictions on the importation of asbestos, as well as more careful monitoring during the demolition and remodeling of older buildings which were likely constructed with asbestos-containing materials. Occupations still producing an alarming number of mesothelioma diagnoses as of 2015 were insulators, construction workers, chemical technicians and those in water-system occupations such as plumbers, pipefitters, pipelayers and steamfitters.
The nonprofit environmental research organization Environmental Working Group, based in Washington, D.C., cites current statistics which suggest that over the next decade four asbestos-related diseases: mesothelioma, lung cancer, gastrointestinal cancers and asbestosis, will claim the lives of over 100,000 Americans. Additionally, for every life that asbestos claims, many more will be compromised by an array of debilitating, asbestos-caused illnesses.
The Need to Ban Asbestos
Our nation and the world are at a pivotal moment in history with regard to defining asbestos as the horrific killer it is and enacting legislation worldwide to ban its use outright. The time for decisive action to ensure the safety of millions of people is now. A cure for mesothelioma, the deadly cancer caused by exposure to asbestos, is desperately needed in order to bring a halt to the devastating loss of life that continues to be caused by this microscopic menace. Thankfully, researchers seem closer every day to developing a treatment that will make a death sentence of mesothelioma a thing of the past.
In the United States, asbestos remains the fiber of choice for some industries. The U.S. imported approximately 340 metric tons of asbestos in 2016, nearly all of which was used by the chemical trade to process chlorine and sodium chloride. A lesser but substantial amount of asbestos was imported inside of manufactured products which are not banned, such as brake linings and pads, and some building materials, gaskets, millboard, yarns, and thread, among others. Still more was imported for use in the manufacture of fertilizer, soap and alkaline batteries. And U.S. imports of asbestos have spiked in the first eight months of 2018, jumping more than 121 percent over 2016.
The mesothelioma lawyers at Baron & Budd are grateful for the significant progress that has been made in getting asbestos out of most products available for consumer purchase and in the workplace today. We are hopeful that the tremendous strides being made right now in improving length and quality of life for patients with mesothelioma will continue. Yet despite how far we have come in the battle against asbestos and the grave harm it causes, there is still so much more to do.