It’s a common misconception that in the United States, asbestos use is banned. While there is a patchwork quilt of legislation in place in federal and state levels, there are no single rules or acts that have been issued by Congress or the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) that completely bans asbestos and Asbestos-Containing Material (ACM). The closest we had was the rule issued by the EPA in July of 1989 called the Asbestos Ban and Phase-Out-Rule (ABPR), which was met with a quick demise less than two years later. In this article, we’ll take a look at why.
What the ABPR Did
The Asbestos Ban and Phase-Out Rule was enacted as a phased plan to create a full ban on manufacturing, importation, processing, and sales of asbestos and ACMs in the United States. This was to curb not only the installation of asbestos products in homes and offices but also the dangerous health issues by workers in the factories that handled asbestos and its products.
Reaction from the Asbestos Industry
Reactions from the owners of those factories to be shuttered from the ban were quick, flooding the EPA and the federal government with lawsuits decrying “death by regulation” of countless businesses and their employees (the industry was already reeling from mass tort). In the landmark case Corrosion Proof Fittings v. Environmental Protection Agency, the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals decided that the EPA’s ban was not the “least burdensome alternative” to asbestos regulation and overturned the ban.
Did Anything Come From the ABPR?
While the EPA did not appeal the ruling, the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals did hand down some clarification that the ban could apply to certain products manufactured with asbestos after the ban had gone into effect. These include the following categories:
- Rollboard Insulation (Millboard)
- Flooring Felt
- Commercial, Corrugated, and Specialty Paper
- Spray-On Insulation
- “New Uses” of Asbestos
Many products still remain on the market, such as various construction materials, automotive products, and asbestos textiles and clothing.
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