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An Asbestos Ban in the United States Remains Elusive

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According to the Asbestos Disease Awareness Organization (ADAO), diseases contracted from asbestos exposure result in 40,000 fatalities annually in the United States. Efforts by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to ban the deadly carcinogen has continued for more than 40 years. In 2016, a light emerged at the end of much too long tunnel. A usually divided Congress unified to pass the Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA).

Yet, the dangerous chemical remains on the market. Asbestos imports into the U.S. continue and are on the rise in spite of 60 other nations banning the deadly substance. It remains legal despite thousands being diagnosed with everything from respiratory illnesses to mesothelioma.

A recent United States Geological Survey report confirmed that raw asbestos imports in the U.S. increased from 332 to 750 metric tons last year in spite of more suitable and safe options. The 100 percent increase includes unknown asbestos amounts in everyday items that include brake materials, wallpaper, and knitted fabrics.

In response, several U.S. Senate Democrats unveiled the Alan Reinstein Ban Asbestos Now Act of 2019. If enacted, it would ban mining, importation, use and distribution of asbestos. Specifics include:

•· Amending the TSCA to direct the EPA to ban asbestos within one year

•· Entities submitting a detailed report on their asbestos-related activities within 120 days

•· The EPA - in concert with the Department of Health and Human Services and the Department of Labor - submitting a report with 18 months on existing asbestos in homes, businesses, public entities and schools

While politicians and government bureaucrats continue to debate and fine tune legislation, asbestos products continue to enter the United States at record rates. That light at the end of the tunnel remains unreachable. Legalized asbestos continues, as do the health battles exposure victims and their families face.

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