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Chinese drywall may be getting all the press coverage of late, but an older and more familiar foe continues to plague America’s buildings. A January report from the Department of Health and Human Services Centers for Disease Control and Prevention National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) predicts that health damage from asbestos will continue for decades, some 30 years after warnings were first issued.

Recognizing the health dangers of the substance, in the 1970s federal enforcement agencies developed regulatory definitions and standards for exposure to airborne asbestos fibers. These actions resulted in a significant reduction in the use of asbestos, and a total end to asbestos mining in 2002. However, many asbestos products remain in use and new asbestos-containing products continue to be manufactured in or imported into the U.S.

According to OSHA estimates, some 1.3 million workers in general industry continue to be exposed to asbestos; NIOSH estimates that nearly 45,000 mine workers may be exposed.

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