New Bill Would Ban Asbestos Products and Fund Mesothelioma Research

Asbestos Cancer Research Centers Would Receive $3.5 Million Per Year

WASHINGTON, D.C.-June 20, 2002-Asbestos products could no longer be manufactured, imported, or distributed in the United States under a bill introduced in the U.S. Senate this week by Senator Patty Murray (D-WA). The Ban Asbestos in America Act of 2002 would require the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to issue regulations banning the intentional use of six types of asbestos by the year 2005 (for text and summary, see the Thomas Legislative site; scroll to Search; click on Bill/Amendment number, type in S. 2641). These are chrysotile, amosite, crocidolite, anthophyllite, tremolite, and actinolite-all regulated forms of asbestos originally scheduled to be banned by the EPA in 1989.

Expanded Research on Mesothelioma and Other Asbestos Diseases

A National Mesothelioma Registry would track the health and status of victims of the asbestos-related cancer mesothelioma. The head of the National Institute of Health would expand research programs on asbestos cancers, including asbestosis and mesothelioma. And seven mesothelioma treatment centers would each receive $500,000 per year over a 4 year period (a total of $3.5 million per year for all seven institutions).

Education Campaign About Asbestos Dangers

The EPA would conduct a public education campaign about the hazards of asbestos-contaminated vermiculite insulation, which may be contained in as many as 35 million homes and businesses nationwide. (See article about Zonolite Insulation.) It would also study other consumer products that may contain asbestos such as roofing materials, brake pads, gaskets, and garden soil conditioners. Based on the results of its study, the EPA would promote public awareness of any dangers posed by these asbestos-containing products in homes and in the workplace.

EPA Blue Ribbon Panel on Asbestos

A Blue Ribbon EPA panel would review current laws that protect workers and consumers from asbestos, make recommendations for improvements, help develop uniform asbestos detection standards, and promote cooperation between regulatory agencies.

In response to the Inspector General's report on the serious asbestos problems in Libby, Montana, the EPA had previously been asked to convene a panel on the health effects of exposure to both asbestos and certain non-regulated hazardous fibers. However, the EPA narrowed its focus to the six regulated forms of asbestos. The new bill would expand the scope of the EPA panel to include durable fibers and nonasbestiform minerals of the six regulated asbestos fibers.

Supporting Mesothelioma Research and Asbestos Bans

As experienced attorneys who see the serious, often life-threatening problems caused by asbestos exposure, we at Brayton Purcellbelieve in expanding mesothelioma research and eliminating asbestos from products, including commercial and consumer products. We support the portions of Senator Murray's bill that promote these causes. We encourage its expansion to also include the ban of "contaminant asbestos products" (defined in the current version as products containing asbestos as a contaminant of any substance or mineral), particularly in view of the Congressional finding that "there is no safe level of exposure to asbestos."