With people in the U.S. dying year after year from asbestos-related diseases, those of us who advocate tirelessly for justice for these victims continue to question why it is still legal in our country. In November, we reported that a new bill was introduced in the U.S. Senate that would ban asbestos in the U.S.
At that time, it was referred to the Committee on Environment and Public Works, where it still sits. Unfortunately, given the current disdain for environmental protections displayed by the Trump Administration and officials at the Environmental Protection Agency, known as EPA, progress toward this ban is unlikely in the near future.
EPA and asbestos
We have reported before that asbestos is one of the first 10 chemicals the EPA selected for evaluation under the Frank R. Lautenberg Chemical Safety for the 21st Century Act for its danger to health and the environment. Mesothelioma.com reported in September that public comments submitted as part of this process reflected support for a ban by asbestos abatement professionals, firefighters, environmental advocates, occupational health organizations and others.
Unfortunately, players in the chemical industry submitted comments against a ban, which is not a surprise. In particular, manufacturers of adhesives and sealants, gaskets and chlorine that still use asbestos in their products expressed opposition to banning asbestos.
A renewed call for a ban
On May 17, Linda Reinstein, the president of the Asbestos Disease Awareness Organization, published an article on the website of the Environmental Working Group, known as EWG, calling again for a national asbestos ban. She writes that 55 other countries have comprehensive bans in place and that EPA has the authority to do the same. She notes, however, that so far EPA appears to be falling short of that goal.