Claire’s Makeup Scare Reveals Prevalence of Asbestos Dangers
While Claire’s, a nationwide fashion jewelry and accessories retailer, continues to deny that their children’s glitter cosmetics contained asbestos as has been alleged recently by a Rhode Island mom, the issue highlights a fact that not many Americans are aware of: asbestos is not illegal in this country. Exposure to this fibrous mineral, which was once incorporated into thousands of insulation and construction products, has long been known to cause lung cancer and other devastating diseases like mesothelioma, a deadly cancer of the lining of the lung or peritoneal cavity. While many countries, including the United States and Canada, no longer mine or export the raw fiber, asbestos itself has not been banned from importation to this country and, in fact, is still widely used in American industry.
Pre-molded asbestos pipe covering and block insulation, as well as all sprayed-on asbestos materials such as fireproofing, were barred under the Clean Air Act in 1973. Artificial fireplace embers and wall-patching compounds containing asbestos were banned under the Consumer Product Safety Act in 1977. In 1989, the EPA issued a rule under Section 6 of the Toxic Substances Control Act (TCSA) banning most asbestos products in the United States. However, the rule was overturned in 1991 by the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals, after asbestos industry lobbyists successfully argued that there was doubt about its deadliness.
Despite widespread attempts to outlaw its use since the 1991 court ruling, many products containing asbestos fibers are still not banned in the United States, notably corrugated and flat cement sheets, clothing, roofing felt, vinyl floor tile, cement shingles, cement pipe, millboard, roof coatings, automatic transmission components, clutch facings and automotive gaskets and friction materials such as disk brake pads and drum brake linings. These products are still made with asbestos fibers in them, fibers which, when released into the air by sawing, cutting, drilling or crushing, can be ingested or inhaled by anyone in the vicinity.
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 using semipermeable diaphragms made of chrysotile fibrils, one of the most common forms of asbestos. Still more was imported for use in the manufacture of fertilizer, soap and alkaline batteries.
What should alarm everyone is that asbestos fibers can still be legally incorporated into some consumer products. Change your own brakes? Beware of purchasing imported aftermarket brake linings. Love expensive cars? Because the use of many products containing asbestos is not illegal in the United States, high-end imports like Land Rover, Porsche, Alfa Romeo and other makes can still be sold with factory-installed asbestos friction components.
In 2016, the Environmental Protection Agency took an historic step to prioritize a complete ban on asbestos in the United States by naming asbestos one of the first ten high-risk substances to be evaluated and regulated under its new Lautenberg Act, which modernizes and gives more authority to the original Toxic Substances Control Act signed into law by President Gerald Ford in 1976. By approving asbestos for priority action in 2016, EPA engineers and scientists hoped to prohibit the sale of any asbestos products in the United States, and put a complete asbestos ban on a fast track for enactment. Unfortunately, the 2017 appointment of EPA head Scott Pruitt has cast the passage of the Lautenberg Act into doubt, as Pruitt has expressed his commitment to defer to the greed of the asbestos industry.
If you or someone you love has been affected by mesothelioma cancer caused by asbestos, you might be able to take legal action against the asbestos manufacturers responsible for your suffering. Please contact Baron & Budd online or call 855-280-7664 to learn more.
Whether the talc used in Claire’s glitter makeup for children was actually contaminated with asbestos fibers remains to be seen. But the recent publicity surrounding the incident should serve as a reminder to all that asbestos is a deadly substance, and its use in any amount, in any product, should be outlawed.