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Why Weren’t There Stricter Regulations in Hawaii Regarding Asbestos?

Published on Nov 12, 2020 at 1:55 pm in Asbestos.

Overview of Honolulu

If you take a look at the history of asbestos, scientists, doctors, and other professionals began agreeing the material was hazardous in the early and mid-1900s. However, regulations and laws related to the material and exposure did not start until the 1970s and 80s. This means that for approximately two decades, a number of workers in industries like construction and shipping were wrongfully exposed to asbestos.

Hawaii regularly used asbestos in its buildings because of its insulative and fire retardant capabilities. Even when it was discovered that asbestos had the potential to cause serious, fatal illnesses, the material was still used. In order to understand why there weren’t stricter regulations in Hawaii regarding asbestos, let’s start by taking a look at the history of asbestos in the United States.

A Brief History of Asbestos in the United States

In 1858, the John Company began mining materials for use as asbestos insulation at the Ward’s Hill quarry in Staten Island, New York. It wasn’t until 60 years later, in 1918, when the U.S. government first recognized potential risks of asbestos. During this time, the U.S. Bureau and Labor Statistics released a report that revealed an abnormally high risk of early death among asbestos workers.

In the 1930s, the first asbestosis cases were reported in the United States. By the 1940s and 50s, a link between asbestos exposure and mesothelioma was identified. This, however, did not deter companies in the asbestos industry—many of which continued to sell and install asbestos products without warning workers of the risks.

Specifically in Hawaii, asbestos was used in nearly every building constructed in the state before 1980. This includes schools, state buildings, and military bases. As a result, many facilities continue to pose a public health hazard.

In the 1970s, federal legislation was enacted to regulate asbestos use. While there have been multiple attempts to have the substance banned over the years, it’s still used in products today.

Understanding Why Asbestos Isn’t Banned

The United States is one of the few major industrialized nations that does not have a ban on asbestos. In fact, asbestos continues to be used in gaskets, friction products, roofing materials, and fireproofing materials.

Under the Environmental Protection Agency’s Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA), a complete ban on asbestos was possible. However, petitioners argued that you couldn’t quantify something like the risk imposed on someone’s health, asbestos substitutes are just as harmful, and the benefits of using asbestos as a fire retardant outweigh the risks.

Even though asbestos isn’t banned entirely, there are six categories where asbestos cannot be used in the United States:

  • Corrugated paper
  • Rollboard
  • Commercial paper
  • Specialty paper
  • Flooring felt
  • New uses of asbestos

Current Laws and Regulations Regarding Asbestos Use in Hawaii

Hawaii has placed strict regulations on asbestos in an effort to protect consumers, workers, and anyone else who comes into contact with asbestos in the state. For example, Hawaii Administrative Rules, Title 11, Chapters 501, 502, 503, and 504, establish the state asbestos rules regarding requirements, asbestos-containing materials in schools, fees for asbestos removal and certification, and the asbestos abatement certification program.

In addition to state regulations, Hawaii also abides by federal laws. The Hawaii Department of Health is responsible for ensuring compliance is met regarding asbestos. In addition to that, there are also specific rules for regulated facilities, which include having a state-certified asbestos inspector conduct an inspection, have a licensed and certified asbestos contractor properly remove the dangerous materials, and having owners file proper notification documents with the Department of Health.

Seek Justice for Your Mesothelioma Diagnosis With Frost Law Firm, PC

If you’ve been diagnosed with mesothelioma and have an idea of when and where you may have been exposed to asbestos, our law firm is ready to help you take legal action. Frost Law Firm, PC represents victims of asbestos exposure to ensure they receive the compensation they need to manage their treatments and secure their family’s financial future.

We understand how challenging it can be to take on a legal claim while you’re in the midst of cancer treatments. That’s why our attorneys are here to support you every step of the way. We’ll ensure you understand your legal rights and options, so you can make informed decisions. We’ll handle the paperwork and phone calls for you, so you won’t need to worry about deadlines proving your case.

Filing a mesothelioma claim does take time, so it’s best to get in touch with a mesothelioma lawyer in Hawaii as soon as possible if you’ve been diagnosed. Once you’ve retained our legal representation, we’ll begin investigating your situation, determining who’s at fault for your asbestos exposure, and calculating what you’re owed in terms of damages. Contact us today to learn more.

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