Following EPA decisions that paved the way for the use of a “new” asbestos in America, rumors appeared that a Russian company called “Uralasbest” stamped United States President Donald Trump’s face on pallets of the product as a way to thank him.
Photos of Trump’s face stamped onto pallets of the chrysotile (or white) asbestos appeared on the company’s Facebook page in late June 2018. A post that appeared with the photos explained that Trump had backed the decision of former EPA administrator Scott Pruitt to not place a blanket ban on the use of asbestos products in the United States. The post adds that Trump claimed that asbestos is “100 percent safe” after installation.
The claims made in this post are true. Spray-on asbestos applications were banned in the United States in the early 1970s. Regulators attempted a complete asbestos ban in 1989, but it was ultimately overturned by the courts. In the end, the asbestos ban was upheld in six key areas: corrugated paper, roll board, commercial paper, specialty paper, flooring felt, and new uses of asbestos.
The EPA under Pruitt published a rule on June 11 2018 that reversed the ban on new uses of asbestos.
It is also true that Trump has called asbestos “100 percent safe” after installation. Trump claimed in his 1997 book “The Art of the Comeback” that asbestos is “100% safe, once applied.” His conspiracy theory was that organized crime started false rumors that asbestos causes cancer to shake down building owners, forcing them to pay mob-backed companies to remove it.
That’s not Trump’s only conspiracy theory about asbestos. He also once tweeted that the World Trade Center collapsed during the September 11 2001 terror attacks because asbestos had been removed from the building:
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) October 17, 2012
The Asbestos Disease Awareness Organization has voiced opposition to the Trump administration’s decision to allow some new uses of asbestos, saying that it could carry significant public health risks. Others have noted that Russia stands to profit greatly from the policy reversal. Russia is a top producer — and a top consumer — of chrysotile asbestos.
Update 2/3/2020, 9:01am: This page has been revised and revamped. You can view the original here. -bb