Posted on April 15, 2019

On the record and circling the globe. 

During the recent hearing held by the U.S. Energy and Commerce House Environment and Climate Change Subcommittee, Congressman Frank Pallone Jr. (D-NJ) asked the Administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) a clear-cut question:

“Will you commit to banning ongoing uses of asbestos under TSCA [the Toxic Substances Control Act]?”

Andrew Wheeler, who was confirmed in February as the EPA Administrator gave a resounding clear-cut answer:

“Yes.”

While this is indeed an encouraging commitment, there is a great deal of work to be done before the ban asbestos movement can simply declare victory.

That path forward is clear for Administrator Wheeler. There are three immediate and important steps he can take in order to keep his promise to Chairman Pallone:

  1. Skip the significant new use rule (SNUR) — it only bans 15 obsolete products.
  2. Skip the asbestos risk evaluation. Asbestos hasn’t become less of a carcinogen since the EPA tried to ban asbestos in 1989.
  3. Under TSCA, use Section 6 and ban asbestos without loopholes or exemptions

Just last month, the bicameral Alan Reinstein Ban Asbestos Now (ARBAN) Act of 2019 was introduced by Senator Merkley, Rep. Bonamici, Chairman Pallone and Rep. Slotkin. In just a few weeks, the bill gained the support of: AFL-CIO, the American Public Health Association (APHA); Environmental Working Group (EWG); International Association of Fire Fighters (IAFF); Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC); Safer Chemicals, Healthy Families (SCHF), and others. ARBAN is gaining momentum and the media’s attention.

The irrefutable facts are:

  • Asbestos, a human carcinogen, has not been banned in the United States
  • Nearly 40,000 Americans die annually from preventable asbestos-caused diseases.
  • There is no safe level of exposure or controlled use of asbestos
  • 2018 raw asbestos imports doubled from the 2017 United States Geological Survey estimate
  • The chlor alkali industry is the primary importer and user of raw chrysotile asbestos

ADAO commends Chairman Pallone for his dedication, diligent, and leadership to hold the EPA accountable for their failure to implement TSCA reform according to The Frank R. Lautenberg Chemical Safety for the 21st Century Act that was signed into law in 2016.

We encourage all our readers and allies to join us in the fight against asbestos, and to help us push our congresspeople to support ARBAN and the banning of asbestos in the U.S. Here are three simple ways you can help:

  • Share this blog
  • Use your social media platforms and include #ARBAN on your posts
  • Join nearly 150,000 by signing and sharing the “Ban Asbestos in the US Now, Without Loopholes or Exemptions” Petition

Administrator Wheeler, I agree with you — yes, we are going to ban asbestos. Together, we will make change possible.

Linda Reinstein
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