A lot of people think that asbestos is banned – but they are wrong!
Today, certain products made or imported into the United States can contain asbestos. For the most part, these are products that have contained historical uses of asbestos. All of this goes back to a 1989 ban on asbestos implemented by the Environmental Protection Agency. The ban was subsequently overturned by a federal court for product that already had a historical use of asbestos; however, the court said that the agency could ban new uses of the material.
But that still leaves a lot of products that might contain asbestos. Note that according to regulations, all of these things must contain 1% or less of asbestos in the products.
A very common use of asbestos today is in vehicle parts – which is one of the reasons why mechanics are so susceptible to asbestos-related diseases such as mesothelioma. This includes products such as brake pads, clutches, and certain types of gaskets.
Note that “vehicle” can include a lot of things beyond just road-vehicles like cars, trucks, and motorcycles. Airplanes, helicopters, and ships can also contain asbestos for various reasons. Basically, anywhere that a part or substance may need to be protected from high friction, heat, or fire, there’s a strong possibility that asbestos may be involved.
There are more – and better – types of insulation available today than ever before. However, asbestos can still be found in some types of new insulation, regardless of the alternative options that are on the market.
Since materials produced today are only allowed to contain up to 1% asbestos, modern insulation may be somewhat less likely to lead to exposure than older forms of asbestos, especially if it is properly installed, enclosed, and left undisturbed. However, if doing any sort of remodeling, renovation, construction, or demolition to your home, you will still need to be very careful.
Certain construction materials manufactured today are likely to have some level of asbestos in them, including things like roofing tiles, prefabricated cement, and corrugated sheeting, and others. These items are most dangerous to anyone who works in construction – however, homeowners and do-it-yourselfers should be aware that these products may contain asbestos, even when brand new.
Every state is different in its requirements around building, renovating, or demolishing a home, especially when it comes to asbestos regulations. Be sure to reach out to your state’s environmental agency to understand the requirements before doing any such work. You may be required to hire a certified asbestos abatement specialist.
Asbestos is a fibrous material, making it relatively easy to weave into clothing to offer protection from fire and heat. While asbestos is generally banned from all types of clothing by the Consumer Product Safety Commission, the CPSC does allow specialized fireproof clothing to contain asbestos for firefighters and others in very specific professions (such as fireproof mitts for glass blowers).
The good news is that asbestos in any amounts will not be found in the clothing stores of the average individual. Specialized asbestos clothes have to be ordered through certain providers, and in most cases they are available only to those who are part of the specified profession.
It may sound absurd given that the whole point of potting soil is to provide nutrients to plants, but that very same soil could contain asbestos. Specifically, many potting soils used to contain a substance called vermiculite (also used commonly as an insulation material), which came primarily from a mine in Libby, Montana.
As a silicate mineral, vermiculite is frequently found near asbestos deposits, and the vermiculite mined at Libby was contaminated with asbestos – to the point where the EPA declared the Libby mines and surrounding areas a Superfund site!
Vermiculite is used less often in potting soils today, but it is still used to some degree. No matter where it is mined, the likelihood of vermiculite containing traces of asbestos is very high.
Be Careful of Asbestos Products
There is a misconception in the country that asbestos isn’t a problem anymore, partly because of the belief that it has already been banned. As shown above, however, it is still a danger, and products being made today can still contain this dangerous substance. Hopefully one day it will be banned, but until it is, we need to be on the watch to make sure we don’t become exposed!
So be careful of these asbestos products. If you think you may have asbestos in your home, it’s best to leave it undisturbed. If you do need to disturb it, contact a professional who can do so safely.
And make sure to warn your family and friends about the dangers of asbestos! If you feel you’ve been exposed to asbestos, there is help.