The asbestos industry will be the first to suffer the end of a government-approved plan to inspect and control asbestos-laden homes, a new report says.
“There will be no asbestos inspections, no inspections of asbestos-contaminated homes, no asbestos control measures to ensure that asbestos-containing materials do not contaminate local communities, and no assurance that local residents will be protected,” the report, issued by the World Health Organization (WHO) and World Health Assembly, warns.
“The end of this plan will be marked by an increase in the number of deaths and injuries caused by the use of asbestos,” the WHO report says, warning that “the global economic impact of this [asbestos] crisis is estimated to be over $50 trillion.”
A recent WHO study estimates that more than 400,000 people die each year in the U.S. from asbestos-related illnesses.
The report also states that the number and severity of asbestos injuries is “alarming.”
“The global economic damage from asbestos related deaths, illnesses and injury is estimated at over $1 trillion.
Asbestos has no place in modern-day manufacturing,” said the report.
The WHO report has come under scrutiny after it was released last week, with some lawmakers calling for the federal government to scrap the plan.
A statement issued by House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, said, “This report is not about protecting children or preventing asbestos exposure; it is about protecting the asbestos industry.
It is an affront to the millions of workers who have fought and died to save lives and jobs from asbestos in America.”
“It is an insult to the workers who made it possible to have a safe and healthy industry, and the millions who will lose their jobs as a result,” he added.
Rep. Dan Burton, R, Ohio, chairman of the House Oversight Committee, issued a statement Tuesday calling the report “an insult to our communities and to our children.”
The WHO study said the federal asbestos plan is based on the assumption that all asbestos is “contaminate,” but it does not specifically address how much of that contamination is actually coming from homes.
“For every home that is contaminated, the average level of exposure is not known,” the study states.
“At the time the EPA set the national asbestos standards in 1988, no one knew what the level of asbestos in homes was or how it affected health.”
“This study confirms that no one really knows how much asbestos there is in the homes they are currently inspecting,” the document states.
In fact, there is no definitive number of asbestos homes in the United States, because it is not possible to accurately assess the level in the home.
According to the WHO, the asbestos content of the soil and buildings surrounding them “is the primary determinant of the risk of health effects associated with asbestos exposure.”
The government does not currently have an accurate estimate of how much material is in a typical house or how much can be recovered from the asbestos-ridden homes that have been declared contaminated.
“It’s important to note that in most cases, the government has never tested for asbestos in residential buildings, because there is not a comprehensive and well-validated test,” the authors of the report said.
“This is because it would be too expensive and would result in the unnecessary risk of finding contaminated homes.”
The study, which was commissioned by the House Natural Resources Committee, also says that the federal plan will lead to an increase of 4,000 to 8,000 premature deaths annually, including the deaths of 6,000 infants and children under five.
It also says the asbestos control measure that is set to go into effect in January 2020 will have no significant impact on the numbers of people who die each day from asbestos exposure.
“In terms of the overall impact on health, we do not know whether or not the plan will have any adverse effect on cancer, cardiovascular disease or any other health problem,” the researchers concluded.