United States Bans Asbestos – Again! 

by Laurie Kazan-Allen



On March 18, 2024 – more than 32 years after America’s first asbestos ban was vacated by a Louisiana Court of Appeals1 – the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) confirmed that the use of chrysotile (white) asbestos would be phased out with an immediate embargo on asbestos imports once the Final Rule on Asbestos Part 1; Chrysotile Asbestos; Regulation of Certain Conditions of Use Under the Toxic Substances Control Act (the Final Rule) was implemented. The significance of this news did not go unnoticed with scores of articles in the national and foreign media; even TASS, Russia’s leading news agency, reported that: “The United States Administration has set deadlines for industrial enterprises to phase out asbestos.”2 The short text about this story on the TASS website concluded:

“In addition to lung cancer, asbestos exposure is associated with mesothelioma (a rare cancer that develops in the lungs, chest, abdomen and heart) and the lung disease asbestosis. According to a 2019 study, about 40,000 Americans die each year from asbestos-related diseases.”

The presence of this paragraph on an official Russian news portal was surprising, to say the least. In the face of almost insurmountable evidence, Russian vested interests continue to deny that exposure to chrysotile asbestos can be harmful to human health. For decades, Russia has been the world’s biggest chrysotile producer, with industry lobbyists orchestrating global efforts to refute research linking asbestos exposure to disease causation. Asbestos mines in the Urals and Orenburg Oblast, Russia account for the majority of the one million+ tonnes of asbestos still being used around the world every year. Even though no Russian asbestos is sold to the USA, the high-profile change of policy by the Biden administration will almost certainly impact on asbestos markets worldwide.

The language announcing the ban which was used by EPA Administrator Michael Regan was categorical:

“The science is clear – asbestos is a known carcinogen that has severe impacts on public health. President Biden understands that this concern that [sic] has spanned generations and impacted the lives of countless people. That’s why EPA is so proud to finalize this long-needed ban on ongoing uses of asbestos… EPA has been working expeditiously to put the nation’s chemical safety program back on track and finally realize the protections of the 2016 law (Toxic Substances Control Act). This action is just the beginning as we work to protect all American families, workers, and communities from toxic chemicals.” 3

The objectives of the Final Rule, which becomes effective 60 days after it was published in the Federal Register (on March 28, 2024), included addressing:

“to the extent necessary the unreasonable risk of injury to health presented by chrysotile asbestos based on the risks posed by certain conditions of use. The injuries to human health include mesothelioma and lung, ovarian, and laryngeal cancers resulting from chronic inhalation exposure to chrysotile asbestos.” 4

While trade union leaders called the asbestos prohibitions an “incredible step forward,” “monumentally important” and a “landmark protection for workers,” they also acknowledged the existence of dangerous loopholes including the failure to deal with “legacy” asbestos – the presence of asbestos-containing material throughout the national infrastructure.5 Agreeing that the ban was “not without some merit,” Professor Arthur Frank from Drexel University voiced concern that the chrysotile prohibitions did not prevent the use of other types of asbestos fibers and allowed overly generous deadlines (up to 12 years in some cases) for companies to switch to asbestos-free technologies. “Nobody should think,” he said that “this is a comprehensive ban that is going to end the problem of asbestos.”6

Online research revealed just a handful of Russian language articles about the US ban, including one on a news website in Uzbekistan.7 Attempting to put a positive spin on this potentially devastating public relations development, an article uploaded on March 19, 2024 to the EurAsia Daily website reasserted that, as per Russia’s official policy, the controlled use of asbestos did not pose a hazard to human health and that a national prohibition was unwarranted. “According to experts,” the author noted “the [US] ban on the use of asbestos fiber is purely economic. In the West, producers of synthetic substitutes for asbestos are ‘on horseback’ and do not want to share the market with traditionally mined chrysotile asbestos, which is both cheaper and better than their products.”8

The devil is, as we all know, in the detail. While we await implementation of the EPA’s Final Rule, it is safe to say that the steps taken already will protect not only people in the US but those in other countries which decide that the time is right for them to also ban asbestos. It is reassuring that, after all this time, the EPA is once again becoming a force for good.

April 16, 2024


1 Kazan-Allen, L. October 18, 2021: A Bloody Anniversary. October, 2011.
Kazan-Allen, L. An Ignominious Anniversary. October 4, 2021.

2 США вводят запрет на использование асбеста [The USA introduces a ban on the use of asbestos]. March 18, 2024.

3 EPA. Biden-Harris Administration finalizes ban on ongoing uses of asbestos to protect people from cancer
March 18, 2024.

4 EPA. Asbestos Part 1; Chrysotile Asbestos; Regulation of Certain Conditions of Use Under the Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA). March 28, 2024.

5 AFL-CIO, Building Trades hail EPA’s asbestos ban. March 25, 2024.

6 Johnson, A. U.S. Finally Bans Asbestos – Lagging Behind Restriction From Over 60 Other Countries. March 18, 2024.
Novak, S. The U.S. just announced an asbestos ban. What took so long? March 22, 2024.
Maruca, J. Environmental, advocacy groups react to EPA's new asbestos regulation. March 30, 2024.
Jackson, D. A Triumph and Disgrace: The Very Slow Road to Banning Asbestos. April 3, 2024.

7 Вредно, но выгодно: в США запрет на асбест приняли только сейчас [Harmful, but beneficial: the US has only recently adopted a ban on asbestos]. March 19, 2024.

8 В США полностью запретили использование асбеста [The use of asbestos has been completely banned in the United States.] March 19, 2024.



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