Will Asbestos Return

Will Asbestos Return During Trump’s Presidency?

With Donald Trump as president, a lot of things have changed, and many Americans believe that many of the policies and laws we’ve taken for granted for years – or even decades – are in danger.

Will Asbestos Return During Trump’s Presidency?One of those “things” concerns the way the EPA has cared for the environment since, under Trump’s EPA, the high regard long shown for the health of the planet and the health of Americans, in general, seems to be going down the tubes.

Under the Trump-run EPA, “the agency has significantly narrowed the way it evaluates the risk of potentially harmful chemical substances, all but making these two safety measures moot, and signaling a win for the powerful chemical lobby,” opines the news outlet FastCompany.

And, indeed, their opinion has plenty of fact to back it up. Under a new EPA framework for evaluating risk, put into effect this month, the agency explained how it would no longer “consider the effect or presence of substances in the air, ground, or water” when making risk assessments of various types.

“[That is] effectively turning a blind eye to improper disposal, contamination, emissions, and other long-term environmental and health risks associated with chemical products, including those derived from asbestos,” adds FastCompany.

“The Trump administration rewrote the rules to be dramatically less protective of human health … experts who have looked at [the document] have said that in the end, it pretty much gives EPA discretion to do whatever it wants,” says Bill Walsh, board president of the Healthy Building Network, an organization formed in 2000 to promote greater transparency to the building products industry.

“The EPA’s failure to further regulate asbestos continues to provide a green light for its continued use in the U.S., even as it has been curtailed overseas,” Walsh added.

In fact, 55 countries have issued total bans on asbestos, included all the countries of the European Union and many Asian countries as well. The holdouts – aside from the U.S. – are primarily Third World countries – which make abundant use of asbestos as cheap building material, and countries that still mine the toxic mineral, like Russia, China, and some African nations.

In those countries, the rate of asbestos disease is high. But it’s nothing to cough about here in the U.S. either. An estimated 40,000 asbestos-related deaths happen each year in the United States, recent health-related data shows, more than twice as many as was reported for decades.

So, how do we counteract that while dealing with a president who thinks asbestos is safe for use?

It’ll be up to the consumers, says Walsh, who has been an environmental advocate for years, originally working with Greenpeace. He believes it all needs to begin with architects and others in the building industry, which is where we find the bulk of asbestos-containing products.

“Architects really set the pace of design, in terms of aesthetics and materials that we like,” Walsh offers. “If they start to incorporate health-based criteria into their palette, it could really have an influence on what the manufacturers produce.”