Production Trends

US asbestos production was relatively insignificant in the first part of the 20th century with an average production of less than 10,000 metric tons per year until 1936. Production began to increase in WWII , and by the mid-sixties had reached 100,000 tons per year. In 1973 US production peaked at 136,000 tons per year and began decline rapidly after that to 5000 tons in 2001 and then to 0 in 2002 when the last asbestos mine closed in the US.

The US has always been heavily dependent on foreign sources for its asbestos with more than 88% of its supply being imported over the course of the last century. The majority of this asbestos was provided by Canada, the worlds second largest producer of asbestos.

While many countries such as Canada had their peak production in the 70s with the US, other countries in Latin America, Asia and the former Soviet Union didn’t peak till much later. Brazil Peaked in 1991 at 237,000 tons and has held steady at about 170,000 tons per year since 1995. China reached its peak production in 2000 with 370,000 tons and the former Soviet Union peaked in 1982 with 2.7 million tons. The Soviet Union is still by far the worlds largest producer of asbestos with over 900,000 tons produced anually.

Currently the majority of the worlds asbestos is consumed by Brazil, China, the former Soviet Union, India, Japan and Thailand. These six countries alone make up for 83% of total global consumption.

Legal Status of Asbestos in the U.S.

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