OSHA and Modern Asbestos Regulations
The use of asbestos for relatively modern industrial purposes dates back
over a century, though partial knowledge of its dangers has existed for
thousands of years. Despite concerns raised by medical doctors and
scientists in the early 20th century, the asbestos industry avoided
serious regulation for decades. Though laws like the Clean Air Act of
1970 did help reduce the use of asbestos , obstacles to stricter
regulation were present as late as the 1990s, when an appeals court
struck down an Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) regulation known as
the Asbestos Ban and Phase Out rule. As a result, asbestos-containing
products are used and produced even today.
Today, asbestos use and exposure is regulated by several government
agencies, including the EPA and the Occupational Safety and Health
Administration, otherwise known as OSHA.
Though virtually anyone can be exposed to asbestos, workers in industries
such as construction, mining, and shipbuilding are particularly at risk.
Furthermore, the families of these workers are also at risk from
secondary exposure if precautionary measures are not taken.
According to OSHA, steps which can be taken to prevent excessive exposure
to asbestos-containing materials (ACMs) include:
- Limiting the time that workers spend working with or around ACMs
- Separating asbestos-heavy areas from the majority of the workforce
- Installing effective ventilation systems in and around ACMs
- Providing workers with approved protective gear and clothing
- Providing workers with showers to remove asbestos after work
- Educating workers and administrators about the dangers of ACMs
Asbestos and Mesothelioma
Exposure to asbestos, even in small amounts and over a short period of
time, can cause a deadly cancer known as mesothelioma. Mesothelioma is a
cancer which attacks the mesothelial lining of the lungs, heart, chest,
and abdominal cavity, and it is almost always associated with ACMs. In
some cases, mesothelioma can take years to show up after exposure to
asbestos, but can often kill within 6-12 months of diagnosis.
Though OSHA has set a limit of 100,000 fibers per cubic meter of
workplace air, some experts contend that there is no such thing as a
"safe" threshold of exposure, and advocate that the United States follow
the example of other countries that have banned the use of asbestos
For more information on mesothelioma, visit the website of mesothelioma
lawyers Williams Kherkher at http://www.mesolawsuit.com