Although the use of asbestos in the United States was essentially halted in the late 1970s, with just a few exceptions, this toxic mineral has continued to have a real impact on the country during the last 30 years. The lives of many individuals have been adversely affected by previous asbestos exposure and this mineral can still be found throughout the country, particularly in old homes, factories, and commercial buildings. This continued presence of asbestos means that it is likely that more individuals will be impacted by the mineral in the years to come.
The U.S. Office of Compliance, charged with “advancing safety, health, and workplace rights”, as well as several other organizations concerned with asbestos and the dangers of exposure, report the following with regards to asbestos:
- Asbestos has been declared a “known human carcinogen,” having been commonly associated with asbestos cancer.
- The peak of asbestos use occurred from the late 1930s through the end of the 1970s.
- Though anyone who was exposed to asbestos can develop asbestos-related diseases, US Navy veterans who served during World War II and the Korean Conflict have the highest incidence of these diseases.
- Some 30 million pounds of asbestos are still used each year in the United States.
- The number one cause of occupational cancer in the United States is asbestos, even more than 30 years after its use was essentially halted. Asbestos accounts for 54 percent of all occupational cancers, according to the Asbestos Disease Awareness Organization.
- Since asbestos guidelines were issued in 1979, approximately 45,000 Americans have died of asbestos-related diseases, including asbestosis and mesothelioma.
- 10,000 Americans will die this year of asbestos-related diseases (including lung cancer and mesothelioma cancer) and 200,000 are currently living with asbestosis.
- Asbestos is still mined in several countries throughout the world, including Canada, and is exported to many industrialized and developing countries.
- No amount of asbestos exposure is safe; however, the longer and more intense the exposure, the more likely an individual is to develop mesothelioma cancer or another asbestos disease.
- Exposure to asbestos can also increase the likelihood of other types of lung cancer. Smoking also exacerbates asbestos-related diseases.
- Asbestos can still be found in myriad homes, schools, and commercial or industrial buildings.
- Asbestos was once used in more than 3,000 consumer products, including common household items such as toasters and hair dryers, some of which may still be in use.