The US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is re-assessing the risks of asbestos use to public health. The EPA needs to do so because a previous phase out ban issued nearly 30 years ago, in 1989, was remanded and overturned by the courts only two years later - citing a lack of alternative options.
For years, asbestos had a long and storied affair with the building and manufacturing industries. The inexpensive but durable and resistant mineral was used in thousands of products in a variety of applications, including shipbuilding, new building construction and even automobiles. Wherever there was a product that would come into contact with heat and friction, you could almost always count on asbestos-containing materials to be there too.
But then we realized that all those years of use and exposure to asbestos fibers came at a steep price. The symptoms were all there; shortness of breath, weight loss, coughing, fatigue and general aches and pains, all of which can be tied to a plethora of other illnesses. Mesothelioma does a great job of throwing medical professionals off its trail because the symptoms often look like the flu or another respiratory problem. However, by the time the disease is actually diagnosed, most patients are given an incredibly bleak prognosis of 12-21 months. Even worse is the fact that, in many cases, mesothelioma patients were accidentally exposed to the mineral 20, 30 or even 50 years ago.