After receiving a harsh wave of criticism on significant new use rule (SNUR) last summer, US Environmental Protection Agency- EPA has issued a final rule last week on April 17, 2019, regarding the use of asbestos products in the United States.

According to which companies are dealing with the import of asbestos products for commercial purposes in the industrial or domestic manifesting procedures, they must get approval from EPA first.

EPA will then evaluate these products and then decide whether to restrict the use of these products or completely ban them from being used in the market.

Rather than simply banning the asbestos, SNUR or this new rule is merely suggesting the manufacturers request the approval of EPA and keep using the asbestos products.

This sort of rule is far away from banning the use of asbestos products altogether and putting people working in the related industries at high risk of asbestos-related diseases.

Banned Asbestos Uses As per EPA's April 2019 Rule

The following is the list of 19 asbestos products prohibited from being introduced in the market due to the risk of asbestos exposure, as per this new rule:

  • Adhesives, sealants, roof coatings
  • Extruded sealant tape
  • Beater-add gaskets
  • Filler for acetylene cylinders
  • High-grade electrical paper
  • Millboard
  • Friction materials
  • Missile liner
  • Pipeline
  • Arc chutes
  • Wrap
  • Woven products
  • Cement products
  • Roofing Felt
  • Packing material
  • Separators in fuel cells and batteries
  • Vinyl-asbestos floor tile
  • Building products
  • Reinforced plastics

The president of a non-profit organization named as Asbestos Disease Awareness Organization (ADAO), Linda Reinstein said in response to this newly presented Asbestos rule by EPA,

“The Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) significant new use rule (SNUR) for asbestos is deeply disappointing, especially after last week’s comments from EPA Administrator Wheeler who testified he was committed to banning ongoing uses of asbestos."

This new rule has come just a few weeks after the EPA Administrator Andrew Wheeler had testified that he would put a complete ban on asbestos in front of the Energy and Commerce committee.

Frank Pallone Jr., Chairman of the Energy and Commerce Committee, regarded this law as the "complete betrayal of that commitment" and issued the following statement relating to EPA's new regulatory rule for asbestos use,

“Just last week, Administrator Wheeler sat before my committee and committed to an outright ban of ongoing uses of asbestos. Today’s rule is a complete betrayal of that commitment. It does nothing to restrict ongoing uses of asbestos; instead, it provides a pathway to market for uses that had previously been phased out, such as in floor tiles and insulation. Exposure to asbestos kills nearly 40,000 Americans every single year.

The EPA should be protecting Americans from this toxic substance, not inviting manufacturers to revive its use in our homes. Today’s action is shamefully inadequate, runs counter to the commitment Administrator Wheeler made to me last week, and only strengthens my resolve to pass a legislative solution.”

Environmental Protection Agency says that the final implementation of this rule will take 60 days.

Surprisingly, while there is a big debate going on in Washington on the extent of asbestos use, and it's regulation in the country, there are more than 60 nations that have already banned the use of asbestos in any industry and have protected their people from the scientifically approved carcinogenic effects of this substance.

Countries Where the Use of Asbestos is Banned

Asbestos is banned from use in the following 66 countries as per the data revised in October 2018 by International Ban Asbestos Secretariat (IBAS, 2018). And astonishingly enough, United States, Russia, China, and India are not on this list. China, Russia, and India, on the other hand, are among the top five users of asbestos, while the other two are Brazil and Indonesia, as per the data collected by IBAS in the year 2015.

Luckily, Brazil has banned the use of any sort of asbestos in marketing, processing, mining, and distribution on the 29th of November 2017. And at that time, Brazil was ranked as the third-largest producer of asbestos.

Sr. No. Country Name Year Asbestos was Banned
1. Algeria 2008
2. Argentina 2003
3. Australia 2003
4. Austria 1990 (with exceptions)
5. Bahrain 1996
6. Belgium 1998 (with exceptions)
7. Brunei 1994 (added rules on the use of asbestos)
8. Brazil 2017
9. Bulgaria 2005
10. Chile 2001
11. Canada 2018
12. Croatia 2006
13. Cyprus 2005
14. Czech Republic 2005
15. Denmark 1986 (with exceptions)
16. Djibouti 1999
17. Egypt 2005
18. Estonia 2005
19. Finland 1993 (with exceptions)
20. France 1996 (with exceptions)
21. Gabon 2019
22. Gibraltar 2007
23. Germany 1993 (with exceptions)
24. Greece 2005
25. Honduras 2004 (with exceptions)
26. Hungary 1988 (bans crocidolite) 2005 (all types of asbestos)
27. Iceland 1983 (with exceptions)

1996 (all types of asbestos)

28. Ireland 2000 (with exceptions)
29. Iraq 2010
30. Israel 1990 and updated in 2011
31. Italy 1992 (with exceptions)
32. Japan 1995 (with exceptions)

2005 (announced ban within three years on all types)

33. Jordan 2006
34. South Korea 2009
35. Kuwait 1995
36. Latvia 2001
37. Liechtenstein 1990
38. Lithuania 2005
39. Luxembourg 2002 with exceptions
40. Malta 2005
41. Mauritius 2015
42. Mozambique 2010
43. Monaco 1997 in building materials
44. Netherlands 1991 (with exceptions)
45. New Caledonia 2007
46. New Zealand 2002 (with exceptions)
47. Norway 1984 (with exceptions)

1991 (all types of asbestos)

48. Oman 2001 and 2008 (updated) with exceptions
49. Poland 1997
50. Portugal 2005
51. Qatar 2010
52. Romania 2005
53. Saudi Arabia 1998
54. Serbia 2011
55. Seychelles 2012 (with exceptions)
56. Singapore 1989 (raw asbestos)
57. Slovakia 2005
58. Slovenia 1996 for asbestos and cement products
59. South Africa 2008
60. Spain 2002 with exceptions
61. Sweden 1986 (with exceptions)
62. Switzerland 1989 (with exceptions)
63. Taiwan 2018
64. Turkey 2010
65. United Kingdom 1999 (with exceptions)
66. Uruguay 2002

(IBAS is a non-profit organization, established 19 years ago in the year 2000, and provides an excellent platform to the asbestos victims, and also provides authentic and helpful information.)

Singapore, Mongolia, and Ukraine are the three countries that were part of this list in the past. But Singapore was removed in 2010, Mongolia in 2012, and Ukraine was removed in 2017, as the respective Governments lifted the ban on the use of asbestos.

And the United States Government still seems reluctant to take concrete steps for banning the use of asbestos altogether. This put people on the verge of being exposed to asbestos and also increase the probability of asbestos-related diseases.

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