Domestic Asbestos Production in the United States

Asbestos mining in the United States was a booming business until the 1970s, when evidence began mounting about the mineral’s dangers and the Environmental Protection Agency warned of its health risks. Production peaked in the late 1960s and early 1970s, when over 299 million pounds were produced. That level was cut by more than half to 112 million pounds in 1987, and continued falling, with 1989’s production totaling 37 million pounds, 1993 production totaling 31 million pounds, 1997 production totaling 15.4 million pounds, and dropping to 13.2 million pounds in 1992. Asbestos mining ended in 2002, leaving the industries that continue to use the carcinogenic material entirely dependent on foreign mines.

The world’s largest exporter of asbestos is Russia, with China and India close behind. The United States has been importing the asbestos that it uses from Brazil, but that country has recently announced a ban on its asbestos mining, leaving it unclear where the United States will be procuring the product from in the future.

The United States use of imported asbestos remained fairly steady at roughly 340 tons through 2015, but has increased in the last year or two. The majority of what is imported today is used for roofing materials, coatings and compounds, and by the chemical industry.

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