Tester Introduces Bill to Ban Asbestos

Legislation Will Protect Public Health, Eliminate Exposure to Deadly Substance

(Big Sandy, Mont.) – To eliminate deadly exposure to asbestos, U.S. Senator Jon Tester is sponsoring the Alan Reinstein Ban Asbestos Now Act.

Tester’s bill will amend the Toxic Substance Control Act to direct the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to ban the manufacturing, processing, use, and distribution of asbestos and any mixtures containing the deadly carcinogen.

“Montanans know all too well the lasting damage of asbestos exposure-just ask folks in Libby and Troy,” Tester said. “Banning this harmful substance will protect our families and prevent future suffering and loss of life. There is no place in our communities for asbestos, and this bill will help guarantee that our kids and grandkids can live out their years protected from this hazardous substance.”

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.

A recent study found that in 2016 asbestos-related diseases caused more than 39,000 deaths in the United States.

Tester’s bill will also require any person or company that has recently manufactured or distrusted asbestos to submit a detailed public report to the EPA. Within two years, the EPA will be required to submit a public report to Congress assessing the presence of asbestos in residential, commercial, and public buildings.

More than 200 residents of Libby have died and thousands more have been diagnosed with asbestos-related diseases since W.R. Grace closed its local vermiculite mine in 1990. After widespread contamination was uncovered in 2000, Libby and its surrounding communities were placed on the EPA’s Superfund National Priorities List in 2002.

Tester has been a vocal advocate for Libby, commissioning long-term health assessments and progress reports on this issue and pushing the EPA to intensify its cleanup efforts around Libby, Troy and other Montana Superfund sites. Tester last year secured $2.5 million to support health screenings for families who have been exposed to asbestos in Libby.

Last week, Tester championed legislation to designate the first week in April as “National Asbestos Awareness Week.”

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 in 2004.