The United States has recently taken a major step forward in public health and environmental protection with the announcement of a ban on the import and use of asbestos. This long-awaited action aligns the U.S. with over 50 countries that have already prohibited this carcinogenic substance. Crucial Environmental, a leading advocate for safe handling of asbestos, explores the background and implications of this significant decision.

Asbestos: A Hazardous Legacy

Asbestos, a group of naturally occurring fibrous minerals, was once celebrated for its fire resistance, durability, and insulating properties. Its use was prevalent in construction materials, automotive parts, and even clothing. However, it has long been established that exposure to asbestos fibres can lead to serious health issues, including lung cancer, mesothelioma, and other lung diseases.

The Slow March Towards the Ban

Despite its known hazards, the journey to ban asbestos in the U.S. has been a slow and arduous process. The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) initially attempted to ban asbestos three decades ago, only to be overruled by legal challenges. The 2016 overhaul of the Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA) finally paved the way for effective regulation.

Why the Delay?

The U.S. lag in banning asbestos can be attributed to several factors. There was significant resistance from industries relying on asbestos due to the lack of immediate, cost-effective alternatives. Political influences also played a role, with varying levels of priority given to asbestos regulation by successive administrations.

Impact of the Ban

The recent EPA ruling specifically targets chrysotile asbestos, the only known form still imported and used in the U.S., primarily in vehicle brake manufacturing and chlorine production. The ban marks a significant move towards better occupational health standards and public safety. Industries have been given a grace period of up to 12 years to phase out existing uses, providing time to adopt safer alternatives.

The Global Perspective

Globally, the movement against asbestos use gained momentum in the late 20th century. Over 50 countries, including the entire European Union, have fully banned asbestos. The U.K., notably, implemented its ban over a quarter of a century ago. This international consensus reflects a growing recognition of the unacceptable risks posed by asbestos exposure.


The U.S. asbestos ban represents a triumph for public health advocacy and aligns the country with global standards. While the action is a decisive step towards safeguarding health, it also highlights the need for vigilance in regulating other hazardous materials. Crucial Environmental continues to support efforts to improve environmental health standards and educate the public about the dangers of hazardous materials like asbestos.