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Asbestos ban sought by state's attorney general

Asbestos exposure is recognized as dangerous and, according to the EWG Action fund, causes 12,000 to 15,000 deaths every year. But, the United States, unlike 50 other countries, does not have a federal ban on asbestos despite its potential for causing serious personal injury. Following the issuance of a report, the Massachusetts Attorney General has asked Congress to ban asbestos.

During the 20th Century, asbestos was widely used in construction because it is a natural fiber that strengthened objects, made materials fireproof and was an effective insulator. But it could have serious health consequences because it can act like needles when it gets lodged inside a person's lungs and other body parts.

Its dangers were covered up for decades. Throughout the 1960s through 1980s, however, the use of asbestos dropped rapidly as its risks were disclosed and lawsuits grew. It was linked to respiratory ailments, such as mesothelioma, lung cancer and asbestosis.

But, the federal government's attempts to regulate it in 1989 were unsuccessful. Although its use has declined, asbestos still has many legal uses.

Attorney General, Maura Healey, began combating the use of asbestos three years ago. Her initiative included a public education campaign and creation of a public database identifying public and private schools to help parents and teachers question construction practices and assure that renovations are performed under adequate precautions.

The Attorney General also filed cases against contractors engaged in demolition or remodeling without correct asbestos remediation. This is especially important in Massachusetts, which has many older buildings and homes with asbestos.

She joined other states and asked Congress to ban asbestos last July. Massachusetts and other states also sued the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency for its alleged failure to make the chemical industry report information necessary for asbestos regulation.

A representative of the American Chemical Council testified before Congress last spring and claimed that the council safely uses asbestos and, in many cases, under strict regulations. Stringent use of personal protection equipment prevents human exposure, according to his testimony.

An attorney can review damage caused by a defective product. They can help gather scientific and other technical evidence to pursue a compensation claim.

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