As all Americans are keenly aware, there is about to be a major administration change in Washington, D.C. Whenever a new president comes into office, there are bound to be questions and uncertainty about how the president will treat issues that, while highly important, are not widely discussed by the public. These tend to be ongoing issues rather than current events.
A good example is asbestos. More than 55 nations have banned all use of asbestos, but America is not one of them. It is estimated that up to 15,000 Americans are killed each year due to asbestos exposure, as it remains in many of our nation’s older buildings and homes.
How will a Donald Trump administration regard asbestos? Obviously, no one can be certain of that until it actually happens. But some environmentalists and health advocates are trying to make predictions based on the previous comments and actions of the president-elect.
In late November, the Environmental Working Group issued an article noting that in a 1997 book, Donald Trump described asbestos as “100 percent safe, once applied,” and that the fireproofing/insulating material “got a bum rap.” As a long-time real estate developer, it seems likely that Mr. Trump was not fond of the laws, regulations and extra costs associated with the safe removal of asbestos during demolition and renovation.
Even though his words were written nearly 20 years ago, the dangers of asbestos were clear long before the 1990s. In fact, some recognized the dangers of asbestos starting in the early 20th century. Therefore, if Mr. Trump’s views were strongly pro-asbestos in the 1990s, there is not much reason to believe that they would have changed in recent years due to emerging research.
As we stated earlier, there is no way to know for certain how a president will act on issues until they actually take office. And even if President-elect Trump is pro-asbestos, it is unlikely that he will push to bring it into wider use. The greater danger would be supporting legislation that makes it far more difficult for mesothelioma victims and their families to pursue lawsuits against companies and other parties that negligently exposed victims to asbestos.
For the sake of all victims and their families, we must hope that our access to civil justice is not restricted or taken away.