Despite Risks to Workers and Consumers, Asbestos Still Legal to Use in the US


The most common health problem from exposure to asbestos is malignant mesothelioma, a type of lung cancer.  Symptoms of mesothelioma often do not surface 20 to 40 years or more after first exposure.    Patients have a 1 year survival period once diagnosed with the disease.  


Washington state senator Patty Murray has tried to introduce a bill that would ban the use of asbestos in the United States multiple times, but the bills have failed to pass.  More needs to be done to protects workers and consumers from exposure to asbestos.  The public is largely unaware of the products conDespite the many documented health risks to workers and consumers, the use of asbestos has still not been banned in the United States.  Found in products around the home and on construction sites, people are often unaware of their exposure and risk to their health.  A bill to ban the use of asbestos in our country has been introduced multiple times but has failed to pass into law.


Asbestos is a commercial name given to a variety of six naturally occurring fibrous minerals.  Its use dates back over 4,000 years ago with large scale mining beginning in the 19th century.  According to the Environmental Protection Agency, asbestos fibers may be released into the air by the disturbance of asbestos-containing material during product use, demolition work, building or home maintenance, repair, and remodeling. In general, exposure may occur only when the asbestos-containing material is disturbed or damaged in some way to release particles and fibers into the air.


Asbestos has been used in a variety of building construction materials because of its fiber strength and heat resistance.  It may be found in products used for such things as attic and wall insulation, vinyl floors, roofing and siding shingles, textured paint, walls and floors around wood-burning stoves protected with asbestos paper, millboard, or cement sheets, water or steam pipes, oil and coal furnaces, heat resistant fabrics, automobile brakes and clutches,  Many people working in professions that use such materials are unaware of the dangers to their health from use and exposure to these products.


taining asbestos and what that could mean to their health several years down the road.  Education on asbestos and its dangers is needed and local and federal politicians need to work on passing laws banning its use.  Lawsuits against companies using asbestos knowing the dangers to its workers have been successful but will not bring family members back.  Banning the use of asbestos in the United States is necessary to prevent the deaths of the workers and consumers being exposed to this deadly fiber.







Do You Know What is in Your Drinking Water?

Most of us get our drinking water from the tap at home or work, but do you know what is in it and if it is safe to drink?  Recently some city utilities are finding that the drinking water they are providing to its citizens is contaminated and unsafe to drink.

Drinking water or potable water is defined as water that is safe to drink or use for food preparation without risk of health problems. (1)  Drinking water is essential for life and most adults require around 8 glasses per day.  In the United States the average family consumes 69.3 gallons per day. (2)  Since we require and consume large amounts of drinking water each and every day, it is imperative that the water we drink is safe.

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) sets the standards for tap and public water systems in the United States under the Safe Drinking Water Act (SDWA).  With its partners the EPA implements various technical and financial programs to ensure drinking water safety.  It is surprising then that recently several cities are finding that their drinking water is unsafe for its citizens to use or drink.

The areas with unsafe drinking water are scattered throughout the country and some are local.  In June of 2013 researchers from Duke University detected methane in drinking water in Pennsylvania.  They found that bubbly methane was prevalent in some water wells within 1 kilometer of gas drilling sites.  In January of 2016 President Obama declared a state of emergency in Flint, Michigan because lead had seeped into the drinking water causing a major health crisis.  They city had switched its water supply source and the new supply pipes sustained major corrosion causing lead to leach into the water.

Locally the Tacoma Utility District revealed high levels of lead were found in homes it served in the city and many of the Tacoma schools tested positive for high levels of lead in the water.  As a result of the findings in Tacoma the Seattle Public Utility conducted tests and concluded that the drinking water in Seattle is safe.  While the water the city of Seattle supplies is safe, if your home or workplace has older or corroding pipes, lead can leach into the tap water.

What can you do to ensure your drinking water is safe?  Seattle Public Utilities advises people to run the tap water for 2 minutes before using the water.  Always obtain water for drinking or food preparation from the cold tap.  If you are making changes to your plumbing select low lead or no lead fixtures.

To test your home drinking water you can contact a certified lab in your area listed on the WA State Department of Ec9oloty Website.  The cost of an analysis ranges from $25 to $50.

  1. Wikipedia Website.  (2016). Retrieved October 1, 2016.
  2. Wikipedia Website.  (2016). Retrieved October 1, 2016.