Asbestos is still not banned in the United States. A 1989 ruling issued by the Environmental Protection Agency banning most asbestos-containing products was overturned by the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals in New Orleans in 1991 under pressure from the asbestos industry. Although it is still a legal commodity that appears in many building and common household products, asbestos use has declined considerably in the U.S.
The last U.S. asbestos mine closed in 2002, ending more than a century of the country’s asbestos production. And although the United States has always been a major importer of asbestos, historically providing only a small percentage of the world’s supply, it was always the world’s largest consumer.
Several bills in Congress have sought to create the first national mesothelioma registry as well as renewed interest in banning asbestos. However, in June 2018, the EPA announced that it would consider new uses of asbestos.
EPA’s Asbestos Worker Protection Rule extends the OSHA standards to state and local employees who perform asbestos work and who are not covered by the OSHA Asbestos Standards, under an OSHA-approved state occupational safety and health plan.
In addition, state and local agencies may have more stringent standards than those required by the Federal government.
The National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) is the federal agency responsible for conducting research and making recommendations for the prevention of work-related injury and illness. NIOSH conducts scientific research, develops guidance and authoritative recommendations, disseminates information, and responds to requests for workplace health hazard evaluations. NIOSH is part of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) in the Department of Health and Human Services.