The head of the Asbestos Disease Awareness Organization, an asbestos advocacy group that she founded after her husband died of mesothelioma, has called the Environmental Protection Agency’s new asbestos rules “toothless,” and that Americans deserve more protection from their government. Other public health advocates are calling the increased regulations “a partial step, a good first step.” The newly announced laws go farther than what the agency first proposed, but fall short of the commitment that EPA head Andrew Wheeler promised Congress.
Asbestos is a mineral that, though beneficial to the chemical industry, has proven to be highly carcinogenic and is the single proven cause of malignant mesothelioma. There have been efforts to entirely ban its use in the United States since the 1970s when its hazards became known, but numerous industries have lobbied against that type of action, leaving many holes in the protections offered to Americans. An estimated 40,000 people die in the United States every year as a result of asbestos exposure.
Though mesothelioma advocates are disappointed, the Environmental Protection Agency is praising its new rules as providing far more controls than had previously existed. Any U.S. company that wants to manufacture or import asbestos-contaminated items will need to seek explicit approval from the EPA before it is allowed, and those products that have already been banned in the past will remain forbidden. While Alexandra Dapolito Dunn, the EPA’s assistant administrator for chemical safety and pollution prevention says the rule will effectively “close the door” on using asbestos without approval and agency administrator Andrew Wheeler said that his agency now has “unprecedented authorities” over introduction or re-introduction of asbestos products, advocates point out that days earlier he had committed to banning current uses of asbestos under federal chemical safety law when he testified before the House Energy and Commerce Committee.
Those who work to protect American citizens against mesothelioma argue that the import of raw asbestos needs to be stopped entirely. Linda Reinstein, president of the Asbestos Disease Awareness Organization, said,“More than 60 nations around the world have put public health before private profits and banned asbestos. Americans deserve the same from our government.”
If you or someone you love has been diagnosed with mesothelioma or another asbestos-related disease, the new regulations have come too late, but that doesn’t mean that you don’t have rights. Contact us today at 1-800-966-2244 to learn about the compensation that you may be entitled to.