Tester Calls on EPA to Better Protect Families and Workers from Asbestos

Senator Wants Hazardous Substance Included as a Priority in New Chemical Safety Initiative

(Helena, Mont.)-Senator Jon Tester is calling on the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to better protect families and workers in Montana who are threatened by exposure to asbestos.

In a letter to EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy, Tester urged the agency to include asbestos among the first 10 chemicals for risk evaluation under the new framework established by the Chemical Safety for the 21st Century Act. This designation will place a new priority on the review and actions required to minimize and eliminate exposure to asbestos throughout the nation.

“Montanans know all too well the hazards of asbestos,”
Tester wrote. “Making this issue a priority could prevent thousands of asbestos-related deaths every year and ensure that our children’s children are protected from this insidious and pervasive chemical.”

Tester cosponsored the Chemical Safety for the 21st Century Act to remove many of the obstacles that have prevented meaningful action to eliminate asbestos exposure for decades. The bill also requires chemicals currently being used in products in active commerce to undergo a safety review and any new chemicals to receive a safety finding before they can hit the market.

The Chemical Safety for the 21st Century Act was signed into law in June, and the EPA has until December to identify its first ten chemicals for evaluation under the new law.

In 2009, a Public Health Emergency was declared in Montana due to asbestos exposure associated with the W.R. Grace vermiculite mine near Libby, which has now been linked to thousands of cases of death and illness.

Tester’s letter to Administrator McCarthy is available HERE.