What is “legacy” asbestos?

On Behalf of | Aug 19, 2021 | asbestos

Asbestos is no longer used as frequently as it once was. However, it’s still in the insulation, flooring and other parts of older buildings as well as in automobile brake pads and other products made throughout much of the 20th century. This is sometimes referred to as “legacy” asbestos.

A number of environmental and health groups, including the American Public Health Association, filed a lawsuit earlier this year against the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) in federal court seeking a court order to mandate the federal agency to evaluate the risks of legacy asbestos. The plaintiffs allege that the EPA has not done its job as outlined in the Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA).

What the EPA has (and hasn’t) done

The EPA included asbestos in its list of ten chemicals that it would evaluate under the terms of the TSCA. However, it has so far not included legacy products.

This isn’t the first time the EPA has faced litigation over its failure to deal adequately with legacy asbestos. Two years ago, a federal appellate court ruled that it had to include legacy products when evaluating a chemical. 

The EPA claims it will do a further evaluation that will include legacy asbestos, but it has not provided a timeline. It already missed a June 2020 deadline.

“Legacy asbestos is everywhere”

The president of the Asbestos Disease Awareness Organization (ADAO) says, “Legacy asbestos is everywhere, and our country has been remiss in evaluating the magnitude of this risk and protecting Americans from harm.”

The groups seeking a more thorough evaluation of asbestos by the EPA say they hope they’ll get more support from the current administration than they did from the last one. While many people assume that asbestos has been completely banned in the U.S., that’s not the case. It has, however, been banned in over 60 other countries, including the whole of Europe as well as Australia, Israel and Japan. 

We know much more about how to prevent dangerous asbestos exposure for those whose job requires them to work around it than we used to. However, the diseases it causes, such as lung cancer and mesothelioma, typically don’t present until several decades after a person was exposed. If you or a loved one is dealing with an asbestos-related disease, it’s wise to explore all avenues for compensation to help cover medical costs and other expenses.