U.S. Sen. Barbara Boxer, one of the strongest advocates for asbestos victims, introduced a new law that she’s hoping will be passed, which will help extradite the ban on asbestos use in the nation.
The new act, entitled Alan Reinstein Ban Asbestos Now Act of 2016, would mandate that the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to stop all manufacturing, use, processing, distribution (in commerce), and any disposal of asbestos. Should the act pass, the EPA must enforce the rules within 18 months of the bill’s enactment.
The act comes right on the heels of the Frank R. Lautenberg Chemical Safety for the 21st Century Act (LSCA), which was passed by President Obama earlier this year. LSCA allows the EPA to have additional authority over evaluating harmful substances, and in turn, determining whether they should be banned indefinitely. Yet, with numerous substances on the list, there’s no guarantee as to when the EPA will get to asbestos, and there’s no word yet how the substances will be prioritized. The EPA has up to 12 years to evaluate the substances.
That’s where the Alan Reinstein Act comes in. It essentially ensures that the EPA will get to asbestos in a timely fashion. Since asbestos is still legal in the U.S., people continue to face exposure, and it’s something that asbestos awareness advocates feel that has to stop immediately. There is no safe level of asbestos. Although there are regulations on the amount of asbestos businesses can use, even a small amount can pose dangerous, life-threatening risks, such as developing mesothelioma or asbestos-related lung cancer.
According to the non-profit organization, Asbestos Disease Awareness Group, asbestos is found in products that people use everyday, and the dangerous mineral doesn’t just affect people who work around it. Even certain brands of children’s toys and crayons still contain traces of asbestos. ADAO President and Co-Founder Linda Reinstein issued the following statement:
“For forty years, TSCA has failed to protect American families from harmful and deadly toxins, including asbestos. Asbestos claims as many as 15,000 American lives annually. The current list of products containing asbestos is shocking and includes everything from construction materials and automobile parts to children’s toys. Most Americans cannot identify this nearly invisible lethal fiber nor manage the risk in our homes, schools, and workplaces.”
This isn’t the first time Senator Boxer pushed for an asbestos act. In 2015, she pushed for a different act, named after Reinstein’s late husband. Boxer and Reinstein didn’t give up, and they are hoping the new act will finally make a big enough impact that asbestos is banned in the U.S. for good.
“Please join me in thanking Senators Boxer and Tester, and in urging Congress to take this opportunity to show true dedication to protecting public health and our environment,” Reinstein said.
Help and Resources for Asbestos Victims
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