Posted on May 31, 2019

On March 7, 2019, the bicameral Alan Reinstein Ban Asbestos Now Act of 2019 (ARBAN) (S. 717) and (H.R. 1603) was introduced by Senator Jeff Merkley (D-OR), Representative Suzanne Bonamici (D-OR), Chairman Frank Pallone (D-NJ), and Representative Elissa Slotkin (D-MI).

Facts about asbestos:

  • In 1989, EPA attempted to ban most asbestos-containing products by issuing a final rule under Section 6 of Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA). The 1989 final rule was overturned in 1991 by the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals which allows for continued imports and use of asbestos.  
  • Each year, nearly 40,000 Americans die from preventable asbestos-caused diseases.
  • There is no safe or controlled use of asbestos.
  • The Chlor-Alkali industry is the primary importer and user of raw chrysotile asbestos.
  • In 2018, the Chlor-Alkali industry imported 750 metric tons of raw chrysotile asbestos.
  • In 2002, California stopped mining asbestos.
  • Nearly 70 other countries have banned asbestos.
  • The significant new use rule (SNUR) is not a ban.
  • Without a ban, asbestos contaminated products, such crayons, can still be purchased today.
  • “Numerous materials substitute for asbestos.” U.S. Geological Survey (USGS)

Why ARBAN is important – It will:

  • Ban the importation, manufacture, processing, and distribution of all forms of asbestos and asbestos-containing mixtures and articles within 12 months, including products in which asbestos is present as an impurity;
  • Establish a new Right-to-Know program to require current importers, processors and distributors to report and disclose to the public how much asbestos is in U.S. commerce, where and how it is used, and who is exposed;  
  • Require EPA and the Departments of Labor and Human Services to conduct a comprehensive study of risks presented by the presence of asbestos in the millions of residences, businesses, factories, public buildings and schools, where it was used in building construction decades ago; and
  • Impose these requirements on the extremely hazardous Libby Amphibole, richterite, winchite, as well as the other six asbestos fibers: chrysotile, actinolite, amosite, anthophyllite, crocidolite, and tremolite.

ARBAN 2019 cosponsors are: Senators Richard Blumenthal (D-CT), Cory Booker (D-NJ), Benjamin Cardin (D-MD), Richard Durbin (D-IL), Dianne Feinstein (D-CA), Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY), Kamala Harris (D-CA), Amy Klobuchar (D-MN), Edward Markey “Ed” (D-MA), Bernard “Bernie” Sanders (I-VT), Jon Tester (D-MT), Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI), Ron Wyden (D-OR), Representatives Nanette Barragan (D-CA-44), Earl Blumenauer (D-OR-3), Lisa Blunt Rochester (D-DE), Julia Brownley (D-CA-26), Yvette Clarke (D-NY-9), Steve Cohen (D-TN-9), Peter DeFazio (D-OR-4), Dianna DeGette[D-CO1, Debbie Dingell (D-MI-12), Anna Eshoo (D-CA-18), Raúl Grijalva (D-AZ-3), Katie Hill (D-CA-18), Jared Huffman (D-CA-2), Hank Johnson (D-GA-4), Joseph P. Kennedy III (D-MA-4), Raja Krishnamoorthi [D-IL-8], Ted Lieu (D-CA-33), Tom Malinowski (D-NJ-7), Doris Matsui (D-CA-6), Betty McCollum (D-MN-4), James P. McGovern (D-MA-2), Jerry McNerney (D-CA-9), Eleanor Holmes Norton (D-DC), Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY-14), Donald Payne (D-NJ-10), Mark Pocan (D-WI-2), David Price [D-NC4], Mike Quigley (D-IL-5), Jamie Raskin (D-MD-8), Bobby L. Rush (D-IL-1), Linda T. Sánchez (D-CA-38), Jan Schakowsky (D-IL-9), Kurt Schrader (D-OR-5), Darren Soto (D-FL-9), Paul Tonko (D-NY-20), David J. Trone (D-MD-6) Jefferson Van Drew (D-NJ-2), Nydia M. Velazquez (D-NY-7).

ARBAN supporters are AFL-CIO, American Public Health Association (APHA); Center for Environmental Health; Collegium Ramazzini; Environmental Health Strategy Center; Environmental Information Association (EIA); Environmental Working Group (EWG); Global Ban Asbestos Network (GBAN); Hazards: International Association of Heat and Frost Insulators and Allied Workers (HFIAW); International Association of Fire Fighters (IAFF); Less Cancer; Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC); Safer Chemicals, Healthy Families (SCHF); Toxic-Free Future; United States Public Interest Research Groups (U.S. PIRG); and internationally, Associação Brasileira dos Expostos ao Amianto (ABREA).

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Linda Reinstein
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