The Brazilian Supreme Federal Court (STF) has handed down a majority verdict prohibiting the mining, processing, marketing and distribution of asbestos in Brazil – currently the world’s third largest producer of chrysotile asbestos. According to a report by International Ban Asbestos Secretariat (IBAS), “the Court, concluding that there were no safe levels of asbestos exposure, ruled its use should be banned and declared article 2 of federal law 9.055/90, which allowed the “controlled use of asbestos,” unconstitutional.”
“The emphatic STF verdict – which was approved by 7 out of 9 Ministers [Justices] – was binding on all jurisdictions and on the national congress which is, said the Ministers, barred from enacting new legislation authorizing the use of asbestos.” This is not only a victory for anti-asbestos activists in Brazil, but for the U.S. anti-asbestos movement as well.
You see, around 95 percent of the asbestos used in the U.S. in 2016 was imported from Brazil, with the rest coming from Russia. Thanks to the ban, industries that utilize the carcinogenic mineral will have to find another way. This means either importing all of its asbestos from Russia or finding a substitute. And yes, “safer” alternatives do exist. Aramid, calcium silicate, carbon fiber, cellulose fiber, ceramic fiber, glass fiber, polyethylene, polypropylene, steel fiber, and wollastonite are just a few options.
With the recent announcement, Brazil became one of the more than 60 countries that have banned asbestos to date. Canada is up next, with plans to announce a full ban on the importation and use of asbestos in 2018.
Kazan-Allen, Laurie. "Brazil Bans Asbestos!" International Ban Asbestos Secretariat. International Ban Asbestos Secretariat, 01 Dec. 2017. Web. 22 Jan. 2018.
"North America Chlor-alkali Market Analysis." Grandviewresearch.com. Grand View Research, Inc., Mar. 2017. Web. 22 Jan. 2018.
"Preliminary Information on Manufacturing, Processing, Distribution, Use, and Disposal: Asbestos." U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). Office of Chemical Safety and Pollution Prevention, 01 Dec. 2017. Web. 22 Jan. 2018.
"U.S. Federal Bans on Asbestos." EPA. Environmental Protection Agency, 19 Dec. 2016. Web. 22 Jan. 2018.
"U.S. Geological Survey: Mineral Commodity Summaries." Minerals.usgs.gov. U.S. Department of the Interior, Jan. 2017. Web. 22 Jan. 2018.