Decades ago, a complete ban of asbestos use in the United States was proposed in response to revelations that the material was the direct cause of malignant mesothelioma, as well as numerous other asbestos-related diseases. The ban was adopted by the EPA but later struck down by the Fifth Circuit, largely in response to objections from asbestos companies and the chemical industry. Today health and safety advocates have continued to wage war against asbestos, and now attorneys general representing 18 states and the District of Columbia are urging Congress to pass a law that would accomplish the same thing proposed years ago.
The proposed law is the Alan Reinstein Ban Asbestos Now Act, and is named for the former president of the Asbestos Disease Awareness Organization who died of malignant mesothelioma more than ten years ago. The attorneys generals’ actions are not limited to their recent letter to the House of Representatives’ Committee on Energy and Commerce and Subcommittee on Environment and Climate Change. They have also filed a lawsuit against the EPA itself, saying that because they refused to add new regulations to account for asbestos use in the United States, the agency has violated the Toxic Substances Control Act.
The letter to Congress urges its members to support the Reinstein act, saying that in doing so it could compensate for and bypass the failures of the EPA. In response, Chariman Frank Pallone Jr., a Democrat from New Jersey, released a statement saying, “It’s both devastating and inexcusable that asbestos continues to kill nearly 40,000 Americans every year, a full 40 years after the Environmental Protection Agency began the process of banning it. The delays must end. I’m grateful to have the support of these attorneys general, who represent countless families that have had their lives upended by exposure to this deadly toxin. We need to pass the Alan Reinstein Ban Asbestos Now Act, and I look forward to doing exactly that.”
The letter was signed by attorneys general from Connecticut, Delaware, Hawaii, Iowa, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Minnesota, New Jersey, New York, North Carolina, Oregon, Rhode Island, Vermont, Virginia, Washington, and the District of Columbia.
If you have been sickened by asbestos, you can do more than support this action: you can also seek justice against those responsible. For more information, contact our office today at 1-800-966-2244