Asbestos Bill H.R. 6903—A Patch for the Asbestos Industry Loopholes in the Ban Asbestos in America Act

H.R. 6903 Bans Asbestos from Consumer Products

On September 15, 2008, a new bill to ban asbestos in the United States was introduced into the House of Representatives sponsored by Rep. Gene Green (D-Texas), chairman of the Subcommittee on Environment & Hazardous Materials. The proposed legislation is an attempt to fix the loopholes in last year's asbestos bill, the Ban Asbestos in America Act, passed by the Senate in October 2007. By the time the Ban Asbestos in America Act passed the Senate, it had been modified from its original intent, providing various loopholes to the asbestos industry for the amount of allowable asbestos in various consumer products. The new bill, H.R. 6903, will provide limitations on the amount of asbestos allowed in products that are mined, imported, processed, used or sold in the United States.

H.R. 6903 Seeks to Limit the Asbestos Content in Consumer Products

Although the asbestos industry has contended that an asbestos level below 1% is acceptable, most health studies contend there is no safe level of asbestos exposure. H.R. 6903 would set a limit of absolutely no asbestos in any consumer product and a limit of 0.001% in the five minerals contaminated most often by asbestos. Those minerals are calcium carbonate, olvine, talc, vermiculite and wollastonite. It would also ban asbestos-contaminated waste from taconite iron mining, which is sold for road and runway surfacing.

In addition to limiting the amount of allowed asbestos, H.R. 6903 would also establish a public education program to increase awareness on the dangers of asbestos exposure. Exposure to asbestos is known to cause asbestosis, asbestos-related lung cancer, and mesothelioma. In 2004, the Environmental Working Group analyzed federal mortality records estimating that over the next decade mesothelioma will result in 100,000 deaths, approximately 30 deaths per day. (MESOTHELIOMA: Report says asbestos deaths growing into epidemic, Environmental Working Group, April 17, 2004) The National Center for Health Statistics (NCHS) has noted an increase in deaths attributable to mesothelioma every year since 1980 when mesothelioma-related deaths were first tracked. (Health, United States, 2007, p. 253)

Groups Supporting H.R. 6903

The Asbestos Disease Awareness Organization (ADAO), the Committee to Ban Asbestos in America (CBAA) and the John McNamara Foundation, support H.R. 6903. All three of these organizations are committed to preventing asbestos exposure and eliminating asbestos-related diseases.

Co-Founder and Executive Director of the Asbestos Disease Awareness Organization Linda Reinstein had this to say, "An asbestos ban prohibiting the importation, manufacturing, processing and distribution is absolutely necessary and long overdue. Other countries look to us to set global examples of responsibility and accountability. We must ban asbestos to eradicate the deadly diseases caused from asbestos exposure that plague so many families."