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FDA pushes for more testing amid asbestos exposure concern

Current asbestos testing standards for industries that use talc are fairly loose. As recent reports have shown that many products contain this toxic substance, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration is pushing for new testing standards. If implemented, it could possibly lower the risk of asbestos exposure for people in South Carolina and across the country.

The FDA allowed the cosmetics talc industry to basically self-police when it comes to asbestos and testing. The last time the FDA held a hearing focusing on asbestos and testing methods in cosmetics was in 1971, meaning the industry has been handling these issues on its own for several decades. The FDA did not test any cosmetic products from then until 2018, when it discovered that many popular cosmetic products were contaminated with asbestos.

In addition to stronger standards for testing talc, the FDA wants to take things one step further. Minerals that resemble asbestos are also frequently found in talc, but there are currently no testing requirements for those minerals. Experts agree that look-alike minerals quite often cause very similar health problems which are nearly indistinguishable from those related to asbestos.

Both the FDA and the World Health Organization agree that there is no safe level for asbestos exposure. People can easily inhale tiny particles that then make their way to the lungs. Mesothelioma and ovarian cancer have both been linked to asbestos, and thousands of people — some in South Carolina — have already filed lawsuits against companies that sold tainted products. Many of these individuals are seeking compensation for things like medical care, loss of income and even physical and emotional trauma.

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    Construction workers learn of asbestos exposure months later

    There is a very good reason that asbestos abatement is tightly regulated in South Carolina. When mishandled, asbestos fibers are released into the air. Those airborne fibers are easily inhaled. For those who do not quite understand just how serious this is, it is important to know that asbestos exposure can lead to a number of different cancers, including the incurable cancer mesothelioma.

    Asbestos was recently discovered at a construction site where a building had been demolished earlier in 2019. Construction workers were apparently not instructed to take any safety precautions for asbestos at the time of demolition. However, workers later discovered what they thought was likely asbestos inside another building at the same site.

    Following that discovery, the South Carolina Department of Health and Environmental Control — the SCDHEC — tested rubble from the demolished building. The results confirmed what the workers had already suspected. There had been asbestos in the building they had already demolished. Perhaps even more upsetting than realizing that they and the surrounding communities had been exposed to asbestos is just how long it took the SCDHEC to take action. The debris from the building had been left on-site for months.

    Many victims in South Carolina do not even realize they were exposed to asbestos until they develop a related disease. For those who do learn of their asbestos exposure beforehand, it is important to maintain detailed records of the event as well as medical histories. This type of information is often useful when a person develops mesothelioma or other cancer and chooses to pursue compensation for his or her damages. It might even be helpful to speak with an experienced attorney about what information is most important to document.

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