What is remarkable about asbestos is that it just doesn’t go away. No, we don’t mean the fact that the mineral, which is in the form of needle-like structures that can become friable and then airborne in dust, waiting to be inhaled and settle deep in your lungs.
No, not that part of “never goes away.” What is remarkable is the persistence of the use of asbestos. Despite it virtually single-handedly inventing the class of legal actions known as mass torts, and in spite of billions of dollars paid to victims and their families, the industry continues fighting every attempt at effective regulation, as if it will suddenly become benign if they pay off enough lobbyists.
And despite the fact that the death toll continues to mount every year, many people still believe that the substance has been banned in the U.S. and no longer poses a real threat to anyone who didn’t work in a shipyard during WWII. They are not aware there is even a problem.
But there is.
The Ban Asbestos in America Act was introduced in 2007. It never became law. And the Senate sponsor gave up after a few more years. She had been attempting to update the Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA), which would have included asbestos regulating language, but that, too, appears to be unlikely to pass. With the incoming Congress, legislative proposals to reduce corporate responsibility for asbestos are much more likely to receive a vote.
Advocates for the victims of asbestos know that one thing is certain, no matter how Congress acts, and that is that the problem of asbestos is not going to go away. The K-Street lobbyist can’t change the chemical composition of asbestos and its deadly effects.
Stamfordadvocate.com, “Despite toxic nature, asbestos still deadly, still around,” David McCumber December 14, 2014