Asbestos is kind of like a ghost or a bad memory. Just when we think we are rid of it, it manages to find its way back into our lives. For many people, asbestos is a material that was banned sometime in the 1970s or 1980s, meaning that they no longer need to worry about it and its health effects. Unfortunately, this is a common misconception, and asbestos is still present in many homes and business. Indeed, a 1991 court case prevented the Environmental Protection Agency from outright banning the use and production of asbestos-based products. But why? In this multi-part blog series, Now Environmental Services will discuss the attempts to ban asbestos, and what it means for homeowners in Seattle and Federal Way.

Early Legislation Of Asbestos

After decades of use in everything from home building materials to fire abatement material in mines and factories, more and more people began reporting negative health effects from exposure to asbestos. Even though the negative effects of asbestos had been known since the late 1930s, it continued to be used by many industries. It wasn’t until the environmental movement of the late 1960s and early 1970s that the US Government began to take action against this harmful material. The 1970 Clean Air Act was the first time that Congress recognized asbestos as a hazardous air pollutant. This law helped other federal and state groups to pass their own laws concerning the use of asbestos to better protect the welfare of workers and the public.

By 1976, the Government took further steps regarding asbestos. The Toxic Substances Control Act gave the EPA the chance to regulate chemicals and materials that had known health risks, including asbestos. Using this piece of legislation, the EPA attempted to ban most materials and products that contained asbestos of any kind. This was the Asbestos Ban and Phaseout Rule and would have kept businesses from making, importing, handling, and selling and distributing any product that used asbestos.

 

Private Reaction To Public Good

These actions on the part of the federal government were well thought out and were done to protect the health and the best interests of the American public. These acts were also highly publicized and championed by both sides of the political spectrum. This led many Americans to believe that asbestos had been effectively banned in the United States. However, this move to ban asbestos products was met with intense backlash from a group of lobbyists and corporations. The result was a rapid shift in US policy concerning the use and production of asbestos products.

The Dialogue Continues

If you’ve read anything on our site, you’ll know that asbestos is a continuing concern for many homeowners in the Seattle and Federal Way areas. While legislation, like the Clean Air Act and the TSCA, limited the use of asbestos, it didn’t keep the pollutant from making its way into many homes through the 1980s. In our next blog post, we’ll continue our discussion of the history of this harmful material, and its impact on our lives today. Until then, by testing for asbestos, you can address any concerns you might have about whether there is asbestos in your home. You can arrange for an asbestos survey to be conducted by the professionals at Now Environmental Services. Contact us today.