Can you believe asbestos is still legal?
Neither can Paul Zygielbaum, a Santa Rosa, CA resident, who suffers from deadly mesothelioma. Zygielbaum has been battling the asbestos-related disease for 15 years, and he wants to make asbestos illegal. It’s a noble quest, but one Zygielbaum is going to have a hard time completing without the help of the EPA (Environmental Protection Agency).
The Long-Term Health Consequences of Asbestos Exposure
In an article titled, “Asbestos victim wages resolute battle to ban deadly substance,” SFGate reports that it remains legal to “import, manufacture and sell asbestos and products containing it.” This likely comes as a shock to most readers because it’s widely known that asbestos poses very clear dangers to everyone who comes in contact with it. It’s carcinogenic, meaning it has the potential to cause cancer (among other diseases and ailments).
According to Cancer.gov, it can take anywhere from 10 to 40 years “for symptoms of an asbestos-related condition to appear.” That means, patients are left undiagnosed for decades before receiving treatments for their life-threatening illnesses. It’s no longer acceptable that asbestos remain legal, especially when it’s already taken so many lives.
Asbestos still lurks in older homes and commercial properties. Zygielbaum was exposed to asbestos in what he calls “three of the most common ways.” His father was a steel worker and would have asbestos on his clothing. He was exposed to asbestos-containing materials at work. Finally, he was exposed while doing wall repairs at home. For Zygielbaum, these seemingly mundane tasks have resulted in terminal mesothelioma, and an inoperable tumor behind his liver. And, he’s not alone. Mesothelioma affects approximately 3,000 people in the United States every year. It is unknown how many people are currently being exposed to asbestos, and how that exposure will affect their health in the future.
The time to criminalize asbestos is now, but it can’t be done without the support of the EPA.
The EPA versus Industry
According to the SFGate article, the EPA did attempt to ban asbestos 25 years ago. Unfortunately, the asbestos industry fought the ban, and ultimately won in court. Since then, the EPA hasn’t done much to prohibit asbestos, and they defend their position by touting the work they’ve done to improve emissions and take lead out of gasoline.
In 2007, the Ban Asbestos in America Act passed the Senate, but the bill had provisions that allowed for small traces of asbestos in materials. Zygielbaum called this, “a betrayal.” He went on to say, “I felt we were in danger of institutionalizing asbestos poisoning as the policy of the U.S. government for the next two decades.” Despite the bill’s provisions, Congress did not pass it. Ultimately, industry won again, and while 60 other countries have banned asbestos, it still remains legal in America today.
Getting Asbestos Banned Once and For All
Getting asbestos banned is no easy feat, but Zygielbaum believes it can be done. Ultimately, people need to rally around victims, and support groups like the Asbestos Disease Awareness Organization, which is working hard to get a ban implemented.
Asbestos victims are encouraged to come forward, and speak out against the material. If you’ve come in contact with asbestos, and are experiencing health issues, you should talk to an attorney, ideally one who specializes in this particular field. The asbestos lawyers at Baron and Budd encourage all mesothelioma victims to speak out and seek legal restitution. Class action lawsuits have the power to bankrupt asbestos manufacturers and employers who still choose cheap materials over their employees’ health.
Ultimately, banning asbestos is going to require a lot of work and support. It’s a difficult fight, but people like Zygielbaum understand the necessity of banning this terrible material. Despite his disease, Zygielbaum works hard to spread awareness, and ultimately he believes a ban will occur. He has hope, as should all Americans, that our government will take action against an industry that is destroying lives.