Op-ed Makes Powerful Case for Banning Deadly Asbestos

by | Oct 22, 2019 | Asbestos |

warning asbestos tape at a building

As regular readers of the Brayton Purcell legal blog know, we routinely share in this space the latest news on asbestos and mesothelioma and the fight for health and justice for victims. Today’s post is inspired by a recent New York Times op-ed that calls plainly and loudly for deadly asbestos to be banned.

The reasoning is just as clear: asbestos kills 40,000 Americans a year. Plus, “thousands more face a lifetime of pain and suffering from disabling lung diseases like asbestosis and mesothelioma,” the op-ed states. The writers of the piece are heavy hitters, though they aren’t household names: Gina McCarthy and William K. Reilly. McCarthy was the 13th administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency, while Reilly was the federal agency’s sixth head.

McCarthy led the EPA under President Barack Obama and Reilly served under President H.W. Bush.

Despite the staggering toll inflicted on Americans by asbestos, “its use remains largely unregulated in the United States,” McCarthy and Reilly write. The longtime advocates for the environment say the struggle against the damage done by asbestos will end soon if Congress fails to pass the Alan Reinstein Ban Asbestos Act (Arban).

McCarthy and Reilly say passage of the Lautenberg Chemical Safety Act three years ago was not enough. They write that the current EPA “is simply not going to do its job and ban asbestos.” Arban will do the job instead by banning all asbestos imports and all uses “without loopholes or exemptions.”

Though the toxicity of asbestos is widely understood, the silicate mineral can still be found in construction materials, cosmetics, car parts and – perhaps worst of all – toys.

Even after the bipartisan support and 2016 passage of the Lautenberg Chemical Safety Act, the EPA continues to avoid using its powerful new tools to ban asbestos, McCarthy and Reilly write. The current iteration of the federal agency ignores powerful evidence linking the substance to “ovarian cancer; colorectal cancer; and cancers of the stomach, esophagus, larynx and pharynx.”

The stakes in the fight to ban this toxic mineral couldn’t be higher. The Alan Reinstein Ban Asbestos Act is currently under consideration by the House of Representatives.