The negative health effects of asbestos have been known for many decades and became a public outcry in the early 1970’s. However, asbestos is still used in our world today. There are limitations as to what it can be used for, but it has not been completely banned, as many people believe. The environmental construction industry works to rid buildings of asbestos; however domestic production of asbestos only ended as recently as 2002. According to the U.S. Geological Survey Mineral Commodity Summaries report, an estimated 750 metric tons of raw asbestos was imported in 2018 for the chloralkali industry.
Despite efforts to keep asbestos use at a minimum, there are still cases of asbestos findings in consumer products today. You may have heard of the accusations against Johnson and Johnson in 2018. Small amounts of asbestos have been found in its baby powder since 1971. This information was kept from the public until 2018 when J&J was hit with over 16,000 lawsuits. Since then, the FDA created the Interagency Working group on Asbestos in Consumer Products (IWGAC). The purpose of this group is to test talc and make sure it is safe to use in consumer products.
Even more recently, asbestos was found in a children’s make up product. The Environmental Working Group (EWG) released a report saying, “The lab found that every gram of the eye shadow…tested contained more than four million asbestos fiber structures.” This is, once again, due to talc being contaminated with asbestos.
A school in Pennsylvania has recently hit the news because of the asbestos in the building. Teachers and parents are concerned that the asbestos was not properly contained and still poses a threat to staff and students. Protests have broken out demanding that the tests showing asbestos concentration in the air are released to the public. This is not the first school this year to close to due asbestos Hazard.
Although asbestos use in buildings and many products is banned, it is still used in products such as brake pads and gaskets. It is found in soil which can contaminate other products such as talc. Older buildings still pose a threat to the public because the older they get, the more likely the asbestos containing materials are going to break apart and release fibers into the air. Our industry is so important when it comes to building new construction and restoring old buildings. Every project gets us a little bit closer to reversing the impact that asbestos has made on the health of our population.