In the aftermath of Brexit, the very real threat posed by trade deals with foreign governments which have not banned asbestos has been brought to the fore by a civil society campaigning group based on Merseyside. According to John Flanagan, Support Worker for the Merseyside Asbestos Victims’ Support Group (MAVSG):
“Decades of Liverpool dock workers were exposed to lethal cargoes of asbestos transported to the UK through our docks. As a result of this and other toxic exposures, the Merseyside area has a horrendous incidence of asbestos-related diseases including fatal cancers. MAVSG has been working for more than 25 years to support the injured and obtain justice for them and their families.
We have become increasingly concerned about the possibility of toxic imports via Liverpool in the aftermath of Brexit. Any deal with the US – a country which has no asbestos ban and continues to use asbestos in a range of products – must stipulate that no shipments of asbestos-contaminated goods would be allowed to enter the UK.”
Acting on the concerns of MAVSG, a meeting was sought with Steve Rotheram, the Metro Mayor of Liverpool City Region and the Honorary President of MAVSG. In a letter he wrote following the August 13, 2019 meeting with MAVSG, he asked Andrea Leadsom MP, the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, to:
“guarantee that any trade deal negotiated with any country, and specifically the USA, does not allow the importation of asbestos, in items containing asbestos – such as automotive parts.”
Commenting on the meeting with MAVSG, Mayor Rotheram said:
“The people of the Liverpool City Region have paid a high price for the UK’s inglorious asbestos trade with most of the country’s deadly imports of asbestos throughout the 20th century coming through our docks.
Considering the Conservative Government’s profit-driven objectives to deregulate and downgrade measures protecting occupational and public health, it may well be necessary to act unilaterally to protect our citizens.”
Unionsafety has consistently alerted it's readers to the fact that Brexit poses the greatest danger to worker's and public health and safety, and will mean that any trade deals with the USA will mean adopting their workplace safety. public safety and environmental safety standards.
Up to 1% Asbestos is allowed even in children's products in the USA as found in imported children's make-up, not to mention other exporters of asbestos material such as the Russian Federation, Kazakhstan, Brazil, China and Thailand.
In the UK and the US, Asbestos-contaminated talc has found its way into personal hygiene products, crayons, toys and cosmetics marketed to parents and children. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration confirmed the asbestos test results in 2019, but the FDA has limited authority to regulate the safety of cosmetics.
The American based environmental safety organisation the Environmental Working Group says that US companies are allowed to manufacture goods with Asbestos as long as it accounts for less than 1 percent of the product.
Researchers found asbestos in seventeen products designed for kids to put directly on their skin (eyeshadow, glitter powders, etc); all were for sale at Claire’s stores (the company has since pulled the products and disputed the claims). This news mirrors a 2017 investigative report that found the toxic substance in kids’ shimmer powder sold at Justice stores.
Scott Faber, senior vice president of the Environmental Working Group, is quoted by Goop website, as saying:
“America is a global laggard when it comes to asbestos,”
In 1989 the Us Environmental Protection Agency issued the Asbestos Ban and Phase-Out Rule that aimed to put a complete ban on the importation, manufacturing, and sale of asbestos-containing products–but it was overturned several years later as the result of a lawsuit filed by manufacturers against the EPA.
The US uses legal action by big business to determine health and safety standards, and unless such action takes place products aren't banned or even checked up on for human safety before being marketed to the public.
There is no such thing as 'a precautionary' stance on anything in the US. Business is allowed to produce anything, sell anything until such time as known harm, as determined by the courts, can be proven. Too late for those injured, maimed or killed by the product or manufacturing process.
That, is the future for the UK following a trade deal with the USA after Brexit.
Source: MAVSG / Unionsafety / FDA / Goop / EWG