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Asbestos Disease Remains a Problem Despite Lower Consumption in the US

Asbestos Disease Remains a Problem Despite Lower Consumption in the US

Asbestos Litigation

The  US Geological Survey brings some hope to reducing asbestos disease in the US. Historically, as the production of asbestos fiber lowers, so does the incidence of asbestos-related disease, which is a latent medical condition that takes 10 to 30 years to manifest itself.


Asbestos has been used for decades in the United States in military and civilian environments in various forms, including construction material and insulation. It appears in commercial and military buildings and equipment, as well as residential and consumer appliances. 

Asbestos has been causally connected to a rare and fatal cancer, mesothelioma. 

Asbestos has also been linked to various other cancers, including lung cancer and asbestosis.


Even though the United States Geological Survey has reported that there is a reduction in the amount of us asbestos now still being consumed in the United States, asbestos remains in place in many buildings and types of equipment. It continues as a serious health issue.  When asbestos "in place" becomes disturbed by demolition, renovation, and other types of construction, there is a potential for human illness. Therefore, safety proportions must be taken for those who continue, including workers and bystanders.


The United States has not yet banned the use of asbestos fiber. While restrictions remain in place for its use, low dosage, and minor exposures can lead to severe illness and fatalities.


“Consumption of asbestos fiber in the United States has decreased during the past several decades, falling from a record high of 803,000 tons in 1973 to approximately 520 tons or less in each year since 2017. This decline has taken place as a result of health and liability issues associated with asbestos use, leading to the displacement of asbestos from traditional domestic markets by substitutes, alternative materials, and new technology. The chloralkali industry is the only remaining domestic consumer of asbestos in mineral form. Asbestos diaphragms are used in at least 11 chloralkali plants in the United States and account for about one-third of domestic chlorine production.”

“The last U.S. producer of asbestos ceased operations in 2002 as a result of the decline in domestic and international asbestos markets associated with health and liability issues. The United States has since been wholly dependent on imports to meet manufacturing needs. All the asbestos fiber currently imported into and used within the United States consists of chrysotile. In 2021, domestic consumption of chrysotile was estimated to be 320 tons, and all imports originated from Brazil, based on data available through July. The chloralkali industry, which uses chrysotile to manufacture nonreactive semipermeable diaphragms that prevent chlorine generated at the anode of an electrolytic cell from reacting with sodium hydroxide generated at the cathode, has accounted for 100% of asbestos fiber consumption since at least 2015. In addition to asbestos fiber, a small, but unknown, quantity of asbestos is imported annually within manufactured products. According to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), the only imported items known to contain asbestos are brake blocks for use in the oil industry, preformed gaskets used in the exhaust system of a specific type of utility vehicle, rubber sheets for gasket fabrication (primarily used to create a chemical containment seal in the production of titanium dioxide), and some vehicle friction products."

Click here to read the complete 2022 US Geological report.

The author, Jon L. Gelman, practices law in Wayne, NJ. He is the author of NJ Workers’ Compensation Law (Thomson-Reuters) and co-author of the national treatise Modern Workers’ Compensation Law (Thomson-Reuters). For over five decades, the Law Offices of Jon L Gelman  1.973.696.7900 have represented injured workers and their families who have suffered occupational accidents and illnesses.

Recommended Citation: Gelman, Jon L.,  Asbestos Disease Remains a Problem Despite Lower Consumption in the US, (2022),

© 2001-2023 Jon L Gelman. All rights reserved.

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