More than 40 years ago, researchers in New Jersey published one of the first studies linking exposure to asbestos to malignant mesothelioma, and many Americans believe that since that time use of the material has been entirely banned in the United States. Unfortunately, this is not correct: the powerful chemical industry lobby has worked against a ban for decades, with its most recent victory coming last week when the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency issued a new rule that it claims limits the use of the carcinogenic material, but which health advocates say fall far short of an actual ban. In response, the state of New Jersey has issued its own state-wide ban of asbestos, and one of its representatives to Congress is moving to do the same nationally.
U.S. Representative Frank Pallone is the chairman of the House Energy and Commerce Committee, and voicing concern over mesothelioma and other asbestos related diseases, he and several others held a joint meeting this week during which he announced a bill that would fully ban asbestos use. Pallone was joined by local labor leaders and the chief surgical officer from the Rutgers Cancer Institute at his press conference, where the congressman said, “Anything less than a full ban is unacceptable,” and Dr. H. Richard Alexander said, “It has been known for many years that the main risk factor for developing mesothelioma, a rare and complex cancer, is exposure to asbestos.’’ Pallone said that he and others had believed that the EPA administrator had promised a ban during his testimony to Congress last month.
Recent reports revealed that EPA officials ignored the advice of their own scientists in choosing against a ban.
Across the United States, asbestos exposure kills thousands of people through diseases like mesothelioma, and Pallone says that between 1999 and 2013 roughly 9,395 residents of New Jersey died following asbestos exposure. “The most cost-effective step we can take today is to ban exposure to asbestos,’’ Alexander said. In New Jersey, Governor Phil Murphy signed a bill into law specific to the state that prohibits the sale or distribution of products containing asbestos.
If you have been affected by mesothelioma or any other asbestos-related disease, we can help. Contact us at 1-800-966-2244