Last week, federal lawmakers passed an environmental bill that changes how the United States government currently regulates toxic chemicals, bringing the nation one step closer to a total ban on asbestos. The harmful mineral, despite myths, is still legal to use in the nation.
According to the Frank R. Lautenberg Chemical Safety for the 21st Century Act, which was recently passed by the U.S. senate, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) will now have more decision-making power when it comes to reviewing chemical safety and if needed, restricting its use.
One of the primary reasons that asbestos remains legal in the U.S. is due to the EPA not having only having the power to find the least difficult way to control asbestos. That task in itself is almost too great to overcome because of the current restrictions on asbestos and asbestos use.
The bill “revises the EPA’s authority to require the development of new information about a chemical by establishing a risk-based screening process,” which gives the EPA “clear authority to ban asbestos, a known human carcinogen for which there is no safe level of exposure.”
The problem, however, is that an asbestos ban will not happen overnight. If the bill is successfully signed into law, it could take upwards of seven years or more to assess asbestos and then ultimately regulate and ban it. During that time, many people are still at risk for asbestos exposure, which can lead to life-threatening illnesses, such as malignant mesothelioma, asbestosis, and asbestos-related lung cancer.
Experts recommend that the EPA put asbestos as a priority on its evaluation list, so that the organization can assess, regulate, and ban it as soon as possible. Until then, asbestos use is still legally allowed in the U.S. and can be used to make numerous products, even children’s toys.
The White House currently supports the new bill, but there are some states that are against it since they’re already fighting toxic minerals in an aggressive manner. For example, Maryland’s House Democratic Whip Steny Hoyer, New Jersey’s U.S. Rep. Frank Pallone, and California’s House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi are all against the new bill unless it’s written that their current state legislation on handling toxic chemicals will not change.
The representatives stated that the new bill “is not the bill Democrats would have written on our own, but it is a long overdue step forward to protect families and communities from toxic substances.”
According to The White House,
The bill is a clear improvement over the current TSCA and represents a historic advancement for both chemical safety and environmental law.”
Other states which currently have inadequate legislation on toxic chemicals would be required to follow the new federal standard.
Richard Denison, the lead senior scientist of the Environmental Defense Fund, is happy about the new bill, nonetheless. He stated that legislation still fell short in a few ways, but that it’s still a big leap in helping asbestos become banned in the U.S. indefinitely.
“It fixes the biggest problems with our current law by requiring safety reviews for chemicals in use today, mandating greater scrutiny of new chemicals before they can be sold, and removing barriers that prevented the EPA from banning asbestos and other harmful chemicals.”
Additional Help and Resources for Asbestos Victims
If you or a loved one have been diagnosed with mesothelioma, asbestos-related lung cancer, or asbestosis, you may be eligible for substantial compensation. There is currently over $30 billion in asbestos trust funds, set up for those who are victims to asbestos-related diseases. Use our free Asbestos Attorney Locator Tool today to find a leading mesothelioma attorney in your area. For additional assistance, contact us toll-free at 800-694-4856.