Sen. Murray Reintroduces Bill to Ban Asbestos

Ban Asbestos Act Eliminates Importation, Manufacture and Distribution of Asbestos Products

WASHINGTON, DC - March 9, 2007 - Sen. Patty Murray (D-WA) recently introduced the Ban Asbestos Act of 2007 at a Senate committee hearing. This is her third attempt to prohibit the importation, manufacture, processing and distribution of products containing asbestos in the United States. Forty other countries have already banned this dangerous substance.

The bill also calls for increased funding to help eradicate asbestos-related diseases such as asbestosis, asbestos lung cancer and mesothelioma, an aggressive cancer that usually first attacks the membranes surrounding the lungs and chest. A total of $50 million would be set aside for ten medical centers ($1 million per center per year for 5 years) for asbestos disease research, treatment and diagnosis.

Currently, there is a nationwide mesothelioma registry, which the bill would expand to include all asbestos diseases. The National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) would report on the state of knowledge about asbestos diseases and recommend research areas. The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) would begin a public awareness campaign about asbestos hazards.

Asbestos Is Still Contained in Many Products

Six types of regulated asbestos would be prohibited under the new legislation-chrysotile, amosite, crocidolite, anthophyllite, tremolite, and actinolite-as well as three other asbestos fiber forms. Chrysotile or white asbestos is the most common form used today, and accounts for about 90% of asbestos in products.

Asbestos is part of hundreds of products, including floor tiles, ceiling tiles, pipe, insulation, siding, joint compounds, roofing felts, cement, drywall, packing, gaskets and automobile and train brakes. Groups that are at high risk for asbestos exposure include construction workers, plumbers, electricians, auto mechanics, insulators, shipyard workers, railroad workers, refinery workers and plasterers as well as school teachers or janitors who worked in asbestos-contaminated areas. In addition, asbestos workers may bring home asbestos on their clothes and shoes, putting their family at risk for asbestos exposure.

Some people are under the mistaken impression that asbestos is no longer in use in the US. However, we imported 13 metric tons of asbestos in 2001, and 15 metric tons in 2000, according to the US Geological Survey. We import $10 million worth of asbestos-containing brakes per year for use in our automobiles and trucks, according to environmental consultant Dr. Barry Castleman. But the saddest statistic of all, provided by Sen. Murray, is that 10,000 Americans continue to die each year from asbestos exposure. "How many more Americans have to die before our government finally does the right thing and bans asbestos?" she asked at the Senate hearing. "We have to do the right thing, and we have to do it now."

Hope for An Asbestos Ban

Many feel that the Ban Asbestos Act of 2007 has a good chance of passage this time around. Its cosponsors include Sens. Barbara Boxer, Max Baucus, Hillary Clinton, Dianne Feinstein, John Kerry, and Harry Reid. Groups supporting the bill include the AFL-CIO, the Asbestos Disease Awareness Organization, the Mesothelioma Applied Research Foundation, the New York Committee for Occupational Safety and Health and the White Lung Association.

Asbestos Cancer and Your Legal Rights

With our main office located in California, the asbestos attorneys at Brayton Purcell have been extensively involved in protecting the legal rights of asbestos victims, including injured workers and their families for over 25 years. Many of our clients suffer from asbestosis, mesothelioma, lung cancer, or other asbestos-related diseases. We will provide a free evaluation of your potential case if you have been exposed to asbestos and think you may have developed an asbestos-related disease.