As previously reported by the Inquisitr, it’s possible that asbestos could soon find its way back into building materials in the United States due to new EPA guidelines. This follows on the heels of the agency’s decision to no longer factor any asbestos impacts and health risks from existing usage into their future evaluations of the toxic substance.
Media sources have widely debated what this could mean for the nation’s future health, ranging from The Washington Post’s incendiary take titled “Make America Asbestos Again” all the way to Slate claiming that the Trump administration couldn’t bring back asbestos, “even if it wanted to.”
Fact-checking site Snopes is in the middle of this contentious back-and-forth and has verified that recent media reports about increased asbestos usage are “mostly true.” Per Snopes, the EPA has, in fact, put a new framework into place that could enable more asbestos in the U.S., but the agency will be assessing any new usage requests from manufacturers on a case-by-case basis.
Rolling Stone pointed out one of the biggest potential reasons for the EPA’s departure from decades of being anti-asbestos: President Donald J. Trump believes it’s “100 percent safe, once applied.” This stands in harsh contrast to medical studies that have proven asbestos is responsible for thousands of cases of cancer each year. Mesothelioma is the most serious of these cancers and is almost always caused by exposure to asbestos.
Trump’s early days as a landlord were often filled with him issuing harsh rebukes against anti-asbestos and pro-sprinkler system debates. For instance, Curbed New York mentioned earlier this year that Trump’s efforts in the late ’90s helped prevent New York City from enforcing strict retrofitting rules that would have forced him to add a sprinkler system to Trump Tower. Earlier this year, a resident of Trump Tower died in a fire.
Russia became the main manufacturer of asbestos after Brazil banned the substance in 2017. Some have speculated that Russia’s involvement with asbestos is another reason for the recent push to relax EPA guidelines. Russian asbestos manufacturer Urlasbest has even added an image of Trump to their packaging. A translation of Urlabest’s Facebook post about this product packaging change was provided by the Environmental Working Group.
“Donald is on our side! … He supported the head of the United States Environmental Protection Agency, Scott Pruitt, who stated that his agency would no longer deal with negative effects potentially derived from products containing asbestos. Donald Trump supported a specialist and called asbestos ‘100 percent safe after application.”‘
The @EPA has decided that asbestos, a carcinogen regulated under 1973's Clean Air Act and largely banned around the world in '89, can be used in U.S. construction again. In related news, Russian asbestos is being shipped to the U.S. with Trump's "Seal of Approval" stamped on it. pic.twitter.com/bsZN69XXr0
— Ted Geoghegan (@tedgeoghegan) August 7, 2018
Trump has also defended asbestos in many other high-profile ways. For example, he once claimed that the World Trade Center “wouldn’t have burned down, it wouldn’t have melted” if asbestos had been used. Trump also said that “a lot of people in my industry think asbestos is the greatest fireproofing material ever made.” As the U.S. prepares to possibly ramp up asbestos usage, 55 other nations have banned the product due to its toxicity.