The following are common talking points in the Asbestos industry…. followed by a few clarifying notes…
How many people die each year from an asbestos disease in the U.S.?
Where does the asbestos exposure come from?
How long is an asbestos latency period?
How does banning use and imports lower the annual mortality rate if exposure is in the built environment?
Occupational exposure comes from:
- Mining and processing asbestos ore
- Manufacturing asbestos containing products
- Installing ACBM (fireproofing/TSI/spray applied)
- Construction activity in the built environment
- Normal maintenance activity in the built environment
The first three activities mostly ended by 1980 (OSHA 1926.1101)
Considering traditional latency period estimates, the longest is about 45 years (or exposure until death).
With the latency reached by now, most people (almost all) exposed in 1, 2, and 3 above have reached estimated longevity (have died)
This makes up most of the data of asbestos disease mortality
This only leaves 4 and 5 above for occupational exposure
EPA banned the use of asbestos in friable and TSI applications by 1978
1 A number commonly reported by ADAO and EIA National
2 A number used by The Asbestos Institute about 10 years ago
3 EWG most recent high number
4 Used by EPA in preamble to 2023 proposed regulation
Around 1990, EPA studies indicated about 750,000 public, commercial and industrial buildings contained friable ACBM. If we add in residential constructed before 1980, another 40 million buildings
The asbestos removal industry has been active for about 40 years
Demolition and renovation have also been active for these 40 years
In the Western US, most existing buildings were built after 1980 (?)
We have no data on the number of buildings existing today that were built before 1980
There never was justification for 40,000 asbestos deaths per year
Even if we accept 40,000 as a high number, what has happened to that number in the last 40 years? Should it diminish or grow now that we mostly don’t use asbestos
EWG estimates through 2013 are 15,000 as a high number
If we conclude that ACM manufacturing and installation ended by about 1980, the occupationally exposed population all died off by now (43 years of latency and average life expectancy of about 78 years)
If we still have those 40,000 deaths per year, and if occupational exposure is what causes the vast majority of asbestos deaths, the exposure has to come from 4 and 5 in #1 above
Mesothelioma and asbestosis must necessarily minimize as latency period expires
That leaves lung cancer
There are many carcinogens in our environment. If it were possible to remove all asbestos from earth’s environment, would lung cancer diminish or disappear?
Obviously, 40,000 deaths from asbestos disease per year is not defensible data
Who would benefit or profit from trying to convince congress or the public of this lie?
- Plaintiff attorneys
- Asbestos Consultants
- Asbestos removal Contractors
There are about 7 million workers in the construction industry today (OSHA 2023)
If we assume15,000 deaths from asbestos disease annually (EWG current estimate), then most of those, if not all, should come from numbers 4 and 5 above. Otherwise what causes the exposure that causes the disease and death?
According to a recent study by EPA, the only uses of asbestos today in the US are: (1) as a filtering process in chlorine products manufacturing. (2) friction products in the oilfields cranes and derricks and (3) imported sheet gasket material that is ACM
The big asbestos problem in America today is asbestos in the built environment. No asbestos ban or law can make it disappear
The other big asbestos problem is litigation that ensues from any asbestos death
It is not as though anyone or any industry wants to use asbestos today. Outside of the chlor-alkali industry, no one does. That industry is phasing that use out
So, what about those 40,000 asbestos disease deaths per year in the US? I have a CIH friend who says “show me the bodies”
The above thoughts and comments in no way detract from regulatory understanding and compliance. Also, the threat of litigation in our industry is very important and should be avoided at all costs. And, asbestos disease, when it happens is real. I am only commenting on a trend that I see that propagates an untruth (lie) in our industry. I believe that if it continues, it will ruin the credibility of the industry and those who work in the industry.
The Asbestos Institute
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