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Asbestos experts speak out on federal proposal that could allow for new uses of dangerous substance

MILWAUKEE COUNTY (CBS 58) -- Some asbestos experts are telling CBS 58 what they think about a federal proposal that could allow for new uses of the dangerous substance.

Eric Feldmeyer has been training contractors and building inspectors for nearly a decade. In his safety courses, he uses asbestos samples but would never open the jar.

"Inhaling asbestos fibers can cause diseases such as asbestosis, mesothelioma, lung cancer," said Eric Feldmeyer with the Milwaukee Lead and Asbestos Information Center.

He says he was surprised to find out the EPA proposed a rule that would allow manufacturers to seek approval to use asbestos in some products.

"I would've expected that they would've looked into trying to go through a full ban as opposed to allowing more usage of it being manufactured in the United States," said Feldmeyer. "I don't know if it makes sense to be reintroducing it."

The EPA doesn't see this proposal as a reintroduction of asbestos. In a statement, the agency said: "The press reports on this issue are inaccurate. The EPA action would prohibit companies from manufacturing, importing, or processing for these new uses of asbestos unless they receieve approval from EPA."

The dangers of asbestos have been known since the 1970's when it stopped being used in building materials.

It's never been banned, however.

Feldmeyer says in Milwaukee, homes built or renovated in the 1940's, 50's, or 60's will probably have asbestos somewhere in it.

That doesn't mean necessarily those homeowners are in danger.

"It's all about the disturbance, the airborne asbestos. It's making sure that things are maintained and keeping that up is the important part," said Feldmeyer.

Milwaukee's Department of Neighborhood Services takes asbestos complaints. You can hire an inspector to check for it in your home but be warned, it can cost a few hundred dollars.

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