Posted on August 28 2015

Today’s blog was written by Tony Rich, an industrial hygienist nicknamed the “Asbestos Hunter” and a member of the ADAO Prevention Advisory Board.  Thank you, Tony, for your powerful words, leadership, and unwavering support. ~ Linda


Tony Rich

“The United States of Asbestos?” by by Tony Rich, ADAO Prevention Advisory Board Member

The United States has a very long history of asbestos usage, a tragic history that continues to be written to this day, to the ultimate detriment of its citizens…our loved ones, neighbors, and future generations.

During that time, tens of millions of tons of asbestos materials were put into our nation’s buildings and infrastructure, most of which remains in place today.

Eventually, laws and regulations were created in an attempt to help protect employees and the public from the toxic legacy left by asbestos. However, despite the volumes of asbestos standards, many still face ongoing problems related to regulatory under-enforcement, poor risk management or by simply failing to identify basic asbestos hazards.

Compounding these issues, asbestos continues to be imported into our country, primarily due to the alarming fact that asbestos has not yet been completely banned. Further, asbestos has been repeatedly found in a wide variety of new consumer products as reported by recent independent studies. Some of these asbestos-containing products include children’s toys and crayons, readily available from retail marketplace’s shelves.


Toxic Crayons

Surprisingly, I was recently and quite easily able to purchase several brands of the Chinese-made, asbestos-contaminated crayons and children’s “forensics fingerprint” kits at local retail centers. These very same crayons were used as exhibits during ADAO’s 2015 Congressional Staff meeting, to a very concerned and attentive audience.

However, I am encouraged to report that retailers have very recently responded to public pressure and lawmakers’ concerns (and poor press?) by voluntarily removing the implicated children’s products from store shelves, a commendable action for which we may all collectively breathe a little easier.

Unfortunately, the US does not have a general protocol for testing such imports for asbestos, so as consumers, we’re left with few choices. But, we can and must do better and remain diligent. Let’s increase enforcement of existing asbestos laws and training requirements, and advance asbestos education programs.

Let history show that together, we made a positive difference in public health toward reducing asbestos exposure risks and disease prevention.

Asbestos ban? Yes we can.

Tony Rich, ADAO Prevention Advisory Board

Click here to learn more about asbestos through Tony’s photos