Although asbestos and its dangers have been known for decades now, a report by The Motorship indicates that at least 85% of all new ships contain asbestos. This is surprising as asbestos problems on ships was thought to be a problem of the past.
According to recent studies, CTI Marine, an organization that conducts regular studies on new vessels, found asbestos on numerous ships. To make matters worse, the issue has been going on for over 10 years. In 2002, the International Convention for the Safety of Life at Sea (SOLAS) stated that all ships should be asbestos-free, but it seems as if the recommendations went ignored, as manufacturers aren’t required to provide documentation of all materials used when building vessels.
Fortunately, some countries recently became more strict about following SOLAS’ recommendations. For instance, The Netherlands will not accept ships without an official asbestos inspection. Australia requires an official asbestos inspection provided via the Australian Maritime Safety Authority (AMSA) before accepting vessels. Other countries that find asbestos on ships, such as France, which recently found asbestos in three different parts of ship, allowed the vessel once all asbestos was removed.
Yet, for other countries, asbestos on ships still remains a problem. China, for instance, has no official standard for a “safe amount” of asbestos, while other countries do. Therefore, high amounts of asbestos in China is considered legal for use on shipbuilding.
In the United States, asbestos is still not completely banned, but instead, asbestos-containing materials must have less than 1.0 of the toxic mineral. It’s important to note, however, that numerous organizations, such as the American Cancer Society (ACS), and the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) state there are no safe amounts of asbestos, regardless of how small.
Meanwhile, many ships passed the initial asbestos checks and were given the “asbestos-free” certification, yet a more thorough evaluation showed asbestos in insulation, pipes, cables, wiring, and gaskets. Most experts believe that shipyards are acting in good faith when taking the supplies delivered from manufacturers, by taking their word that the products do not contain asbestos. In addition, independent asbestos surveys are not picking up the toxic mineral, which explains why many ships pass the initial test.
Why is Asbestos Still Legal in the United States?
Despite attempts by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to ban it completely, small amounts of asbestos are still legal to use in some products in the United States. Asbestos manufacturers, as well as corporate giants have fought tooth and nail against the complete ban of asbestos, stating that it will cause the loss a myriad of jobs and cause “economic ruin.” Others claim that not only would a complete ban on asbestos be too expensive, but that alternative materials are just as dangerous.
Currently, the Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA) only has bans on asbestos use in the following products:
- Commercial paper
- Specialty paper
- Flooring felt
- Corrugated paper
The following items, however, according to the EPA’s official website, currently do not have any bans on asbestos use.
- Cement corrugated sheet
- Cement flat sheet
- Pipeline wrap
- Roofing felt
- Vinyl floor tile
- Cement shingle
- Cement pipe
- Automatic transmission components
- Clutch facings
- Friction materials
- Disk brake pads
- Drum brake linings
- Brake blocks
- Non-roofing coatings
- Roof coatings
Additional Resources and Help
It’s important to note that if you or a loved one were injured by asbestos, you may be entitled to significant compensation. Right now, there is more than $30 billion available in asbestos trust funds. We invite you to fill out our contact form today to get free brochures from the top mesothelioma lawyers in your area. For over 20 years, we’ve been assisting families in successfully connecting to dedicated and experienced mesothelioma attorneys.