Asbestos is a mineral fiber with a lot of qualities desirable for manufacturing. It's great at dampening sound, fire-resistant, strong, and cheap.
AGAINST THE TIDE. In the face of overwhelming (overwhelming!) evidence indicating that asbestos is dangerous, more than 60 countries have banned its use outright. But not the U.S. Here, our Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) simply banned some uses of the material but not others. Now, Trump's EPA is proposing we expand that list of legal uses.
In June, the agency proposed a Significant New Use Rule (SNUR) that would allow manufacturers and importers to apply on a case-by-case basis for approval to use asbestos in ways not currently approved. The comment period on that rule ends Friday, after which it could go into effect.
SO, UH, WHY?? Each year, an estimated 12,000 to 15,000 people in the U.S. die from exposure to asbestos, according to the Environmental Working Group, an environmental health-focused nonprofit. Globally, that number could be as high as 255,000.
The EPA's proposal isn't based on any new research that disproves the health hazards of asbestos, and if nothing's changed there, why on Earth would the U.S. want to backtrack and bring more asbestos into the nation? (One guess: Russia.)
Whatever the justification, though, this whole thing makes about as much sense as encouraging people to start smoking cigarettes. In other words, it makes no sense at all.
This article was originally published by Futurism.
Science AF is ScienceAlert's new editorial section where we explore society's most complex problems using science, sanity and humor.