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Where Does Asbestos Come From?

Where Does Asbestos Come From?

Asbestos is a naturally occurring mineral located in metaphoric rock.  Asbestos was once referred to as the miracle mineral for its resistance to chemical attacks, durability, and heat resistance capabilities.  Asbestos often is blue, white, or brown in color and is typically found in a fibrous state.  Asbestos is found in several locations throughout the world including the United States.  In the United States, the most significant deposits of asbestos are found in many states including Arizona, Vermont, North Carolina, Georgia, Alaska, California, and Washington.  The United States began mining asbestos before the turn of the 20th century and peaked in the early 1970's.

Is Asbestos still mined today?    

Asbestos is no longer mined in the United States.  The last asbestos operated mine was in California and closed in 2002.  Although the United States no longer mines asbestos, asbestos is mined in several locations throughout the world still today.  Examples of 5 major countries producing asbestos includes the worlds largest producer Russia, along with Kazakhstan, China, Brazil, and Zimbabwe.

Is Asbestos Outlawed?     

Asbestos is banned in over 55 countries.  Iceland was the first to ban asbestos imports due to health concerns in 1983.  The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) banned certain uses of asbestos in the United States in 1973 and by 1979 most asbestos products were no longer being manufactured in the US.  Most people are the surprised to learn the US still imports asbestos products today.  In 2020, an estimated 300 metric tons of chrysotile asbestos was imported to the United States.  The imported asbestos is used for making diaphragms in the chlor-alkai industry which processes sodium chloride solutions (technology to produce chlorine and sodium hydroxide).  Asbestos is found in imported manufactured products in the US as well.  the most common imported manufactured products containing asbestos are friction products (brakes) brake blocks, and runner sheet gaskets.    

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