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Is asbestos still legal in some countries?

Brenda Nyawara | Posted in Building Code Questions on

Asbestos, scientifically proved to be carcinogenic, has been banned in several countries. However, some old buildings that are still in use have asbestos ceilings. Is there an international law against this?

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  1. GBA Editor
    Martin Holladay | | #1

    Although the quantity of asbestos fibers in consumer products is regulated, the substance has not been banned in the U.S., to the best of my knowledge. According to Wikipedia, in "the United States ... asbestos continues to be used in construction such as cement asbestos pipes. The 5th Circuit Court prevented the EPA from banning asbestos in 1991 because although EPA research showed it would cost between $450 and 800 million and save around 200 lives in a 13-year length, the EPA did not provide adequate evidence for the safety of alternative products."

    Asbestos regulation varies widely from country to country. South Korea did not implement a ban on asbestos in construction materials until 2009. The Wikipedia article notes, "Some countries, such as India, China, Russia and Brazil, have continued widespread use of asbestos."

  2. BobHr | | #2

    I was just looking at a list of building products containing asbestos. Here is what the MN site says.

    Aren't all asbestos products banned?

    No. The United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)has banned the use of the following products in new construction and renovation:

    Spray-applied surfacing asbestos-containing material.
    Sprayed-on application of materials containing more than 1% asbestos to buildings, structures, pipes, and conduits unless the material is encapsulated with a bituminous or resinous binder during spraying and the materials are not friable after drying.
    Wet-applied and pre-formed asbestos pipe insulation, and pre-formed asbestos block insulation on boilers and hot water tanks.
    Corrugated paper, rollboard, commercial paper, specialty paper, flooring felt, and new uses of asbestos.

  3. JoeW519 | | #3

    I believe trucks still use asbestos in brake linings ... or so stated in an article which I haven't vetted. ymmv

  4. Expert Member

    With the election of a new government in Quebec that has said it will no longer support the industry, and the Canadian government's announcement that it will no longer block international efforts to declare it a hazardous material, we have hopefully seen the last of this destructive product.

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