Tester Introduces Bill to Ban Asbestos, Protect Public Health

Senator: Asbestos has already taken the lives of too many Montanans

(U.S. Senate) – U.S. Senator Jon Tester today introduced the Alan Reinstein Ban Asbestos Now Act of 2017, legislation to eliminate human or environmental exposure to asbestos, a known carcinogen.

“Asbestos has already taken the lives of too many Montanans, and banning this harmful substance will prevent the future loss of life,” Tester said. “Just ask the families in Libby and Troy; there’s no place for asbestos in our communities. This bill will protect families, our environment, and our communities.”

The bill is named after Alan Reinstein, who passed away in 2006 at the age of 66 from mesothelioma, a disease caused by exposure to asbestos. Alan’s wife, Linda, co-founded the Asbestos Disease Awareness Organization (ADAO) in 2004.

“ADAO is extremely thankful to Senator Merkley for championing the Alan Reinstein Ban Asbestos Now Act (ARBAN) of 2017,” said Linda Reinstein. “With the increase in asbestos imports and more than 15,000 Americans dying each year from asbestos exposure, the timing of the bill is critical. Nearly forty years have passed since the EPA tried to ban asbestos with the overwhelming scientific evidence reaffirming that asbestos is a carcinogen and there is no safe or controlled use. Moving forward to ban asbestos will save dollars and lives. It’s time to make asbestos a thing of the past in this nation once and for all.”

Asbestos is still legal in the United States, even though it has been banned in most other developed countries. Asbestos in all forms is known to be a leading cause of mesothelioma, lung cancer, and other chronic respiratory diseases.

Although the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) included asbestos on its list of the first ten chemicals for risk reviews under the 2016 revised Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA), EPA’s safety assessment must be completed before EPA can consider any controls on asbestos, and the EPA is not required to ban it.

Specifically, today’s legislation would:

  • Amend TSCA to require the EPA to identify and assess known uses of, and exposures to all forms of asbestos.
  • Require that, within 18 months of enactment, the EPA must impose restrictions on the use of asbestos necessary to eliminate human or environmental exposure to all forms of asbestos.
  • Within one year, disallow the manufacturing, processing, use or distribution of commerce asbestos other than described in EPA’s rule.

The bill is endorsed by a wide range of organizations, including the American Public Health Association, the AFL-CIO, American Federation of Teachers, Earthjustice, Natural Resources Defense Council, International Association of Firefighters, Safer Chemicals Healthy Families, and Service Employees International Union.