US Asbestos Imports Dropped Significantly in 2019
Raw asbestos imported to the United States dropped significantly in 2019, according to the recently released U.S. Geological Survey Mineral Commodity Summaries report.
The U.S. imported an estimated 100 metric tons of asbestos last year. It’s the smallest amount since records were first kept in 1910, long before the mineral became a major part of the construction industry in America.
That number is in sharp contrast to the 681 metric tons imported in 2018.
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All imported asbestos went to the chloralkali industry — for the second consecutive year — to use in the manufacturing of semipermeable diaphragms for making chlorine.
There are 11 chloralkali factories throughout the country using asbestos diaphragms. They account for one-third of domestic production of chlorine.
According to the report, “a small but unknown amount of asbestos” also was imported for various products, including vehicle friction items, brake blocks for the oil industry and materials used in the production of titanium dioxide.
“The decline has taken place as a result of health and liability issues associated with asbestos use, leading to the displacement of asbestos from traditional domestic markets by substitutes, alternative materials and new technology,” the report summarized.
Daniel Flanagan, a mineral commodity specialist for the National Minerals Information Center, which is part of the U.S. Department of the Interior, prepared the annual report.
All Imported Asbestos Came from Russia
In recent years, asbestos imports ranged from a high of 772 tons in 2013 to a low of 325 tons in 2015.
Last year, asbestos imports for 2018 were estimated at 750 tons, but that figure was revised to 681 tons in the latest report. The estimated 100 tons imported in 2019 also could be revised in the coming months.
All imported asbestos in 2019 was the chrysotile type and came from Russia, the world’s largest producer of the mineral.Read the full story here
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