Asbestos, a known carcinogen, has yet to be banned from production in the United States. For decades it has been mined and used in products including insulation, floor tile, construction products and gaskets. It has been recognized as the sole cause for mesotheloma, a rare, but fatal, cancer. Asbestos exposure a significant risk factor in lung, gastrointestinal and other malignancies.
Since the latency period of asbestos related disease is 10 to 15 or more years after exposure, the drop in asbestos production may signal that asbestos related disease will also decline in future decades. In most jurisdictions, workers' compensation systems, have struggled to provided benefits to workers who have been exposed to asbestos fiber even though the onset of the occupational disease did not manifest for decades following exposure to the natural occurring fiber.
For many years advocacy groups have fought for a complete ban on the use of asbestos products in the United States. Legislation is currently remains pending in Congress.