For Immediate Release
January 26, 2021
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
January 26, 2021
ASBESTOS DISEASE AWARENESS ORGANIZATION AND PARTNERS INITIATE NEW LEGAL ACTIONS AGAINST EPA’S FLAWED FINAL RISK EVALUATION FOR ASBESTOS
Trump EPA evaluation fails to address numerous sources of asbestos risk and exposure and provides inadequate public health protection.
WASHINGTON, DC – Joined by five public health groups and six leading asbestos scientists, the Asbestos Disease Awareness Organization (ADAO), an independent nonprofit organization dedicated to preventing asbestos exposure, today asked the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals to review the asbestos risk evaluation issued last month by Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) under the Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA).
ADAO and its partners also sent EPA a 60-day letter notifying the agency of their intent to file suit under TSCA in a federal district court to assure that the agency meets its obligation to evaluate the risks of “legacy” asbestos found in millions of buildings across the United States.
“Asbestos is one of the world’s largest man-made disasters. Disappointingly, the Trump EPA fell far short of a comprehensive evaluation as required in the Lautenberg Chemical Safety Act,”said ADAO co-founder and President Linda Reinstein. “The EPA’s piecemeal and dangerously incomplete Final Risk Evaluation for Asbestos overlooks numerous sources of asbestos exposure and risk, and understates the enormous toll of disease and death for which asbestos is directly responsible,” she continued.
In its August 28, 2020 report, EPA’s own independent Science Advisory Committee on Chemicals (SACC) concluded that “Overall, EPA’s environmental and human health risk evaluation for asbestos was not considered adequate and resulted in low confidence in the conclusions.”
The shortcomings of the final asbestos evaluation were underscored in the December 22, 2020 decision by U.S. District Court Judge Edward J. Chen, who ruled EPA has unlawfully failed to use its TSCA authority to obtain basic information on asbestos use and exposure needed for a sound risk evaluation. Judge Chen ordered EPA to amend its TSCA reporting rules to require submission of this information by industry.
Despite its limitations, the final risk evaluation does conclude that a number of current asbestos uses present an unreasonable risk of injury to human health. ADAO and its partners support these findings and urge EPA to ban these uses under TSCA in the risk management phase of its work.
“Despite the 2019 decision of the Ninth Circuit that ongoing use and disposal of legacy asbestos must be addressed under TSCA, the Trump EPA made no progress in evaluating legacy asbestos, said ADAO Counsel Robert Sussman. “Instead, it promised a future evaluation without setting a deadline or defining its scope. Our 60-day letter to the EPA Administrator is a critical step in assuring that EPA protects the millions of Americans exposed to legacy asbestos in homes, factories, schools, public buildings, and commercial establishments.”
Asbestos is a deadly substance that causes cancer and other serious diseases and has no safe level of exposure. It continues to kill nearly 40,000 Americans each year.
“We look forward to working with the Biden EPA and Congress to achieve the full protection Americans deserve from this deadly carcinogen,” said Reinstein. “We are also grateful for our ongoing partnership with 13 Attorney Generals, who joined us in our successful suit before Judge Chen and supported the Alan Reinstein Ban Asbestos Now Act in the last Congress. We look forward to continuing this collaboration as our work to prevent asbestos exposure enters a new phase.”
The organizations joining ADAO in these legal actions are the American Public Health Association (APHA); Center for Environmental Health (CEH); Environmental Information Association (EIA): Safer Chemicals, Healthy Families (SCHF); and Vermont Public Interest Research Group (VPIRG) Scientists participating are Barry Castleman, ScD; Raja Flores, MD; Arthur Frank, MD, PhD; Philip Landrigan, MD, MSc; Richard Lemen, PhD, MSPH; and Celeste Monforton, DrPH, MPH.
To review previous legal actions and outcomes, refer to ADAO v. EPA Cases: Actions and Outcomes to Prevent Asbestos Exposure and Eliminate All Asbestos-Caused Diseases.
About the Asbestos Disease Awareness Organization
The Asbestos Disease Awareness Organization (ADAO) is a global leader in combining education, advocacy, and community initiatives to prevent and end asbestos exposure. ADAO seeks to raise public awareness about the dangers of asbestos, advocate for an asbestos ban, and protect asbestos victims’ civil rights. ADAO, a registered 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization, does not make legal referrals. For more information, visit www.asbestosdiseaseawareness.org.
Kim Cecchini, (202) 391-5205
Tracy Russo, (202) 556-1631
2021 ADAO v EPA Petioners BIos
Barry Castleman, ScD is an Environmental Consultant trained in chemical and environmental engineering. He holds a Doctor of Science degree from the Johns Hopkins School of Public Health. He has been a consultant to numerous agencies of the US government and other governments, international bodies, and environmental groups dealing with a wide range of public health issues. He has testified as an expert in civil litigation in the US on the history of asbestos as a public health problem and the reasons for failure to properly control asbestos hazards. Dr. Castleman has spent the past 40 years working on asbestos as a public health problem.
Raja Flores, MD, is the Chairman for the Department of Thoracic Surgery at Mt. Sinai Medical Center and ADAO Science Advisory Board Co-Chair Member. Raja is a recognized leader in the field of thoracic surgery for his pioneering efforts in the treatment of mesothelioma. Dr. Flores’ research interests include numerous past projects relating to the multimodality management of malignant pleural mesothelioma. He helped pioneer the use of intraoperative chemotherapy for mesothelioma, and led a multi-center trial designed to improve patient outcomes. He changed the surgical management of pleural mesothelioma cancer with a landmark study comparing extrapleural pneumonectomy and pleurectomy/decortication. An expert in his field, Dr. Flores has appeared on many national and local television news reports to discuss mesothelioma. With over 250 related publications to date, his energies and commitment to the plight of mesothelioma patients remains paramount.
Arthur L. Frank, MD, PhD, is a physician board certified in both internal medicine and occupational medicine and currently serves as Professor of Public Health and Chair Emeritus of the Department of Environmental and Occupational Health at the Drexel University School of Public Health in Philadelphia. He is also a Professor of Medicine (Pulmonary) at the Drexel College of Medicine. He also holds a position at Drexel as Professor of Civil, Architectural and Environmental Engineering. A life-long academic, Dr. Frank has previously taught at Mount Sinai, the University of Kentucky and in the University of Texas System. He has served many governmental agencies in the US and has carried out research and has been a governmental advisor internationally. Trained in both occupational medicine and internal medicine, Dr. Frank has been interested in the health hazards of asbestos for more than 35 years. He has published a great deal of work on the hazards of asbestos, and clinically cared for asbestos affected patients. He has lectured internationally about the problems of asbestos, and worked in many settings looking at the diseases caused by this material. His research interests have been in the areas of occupational cancers and occupational lung diseases, as well as agricultural safety and health. For thirty-seven years he held a commission in the U S Public Health Service (active and inactive) and served on active duty both at the NIH and at NIOSH. Arthur is the ADAO Science Advisory Board Co-Chair.
Philip J. Landrigan, MD, MSc is a pediatrician and epidemiologist who directs the Program for Global Public Health and the Common Good and the Global Observatory on Pollution and Health at Boston College. For four decades, Dr. Landrigan has undertaken research elucidating connections between the environment and human health and translated this research into disease prevention policies.
Dr. Landrigan was a Professor at the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai in New York from 1985 to 2018, where he served as Chairman of Preventive Medicine and Dean for Global Health. From 2015-2018, Dr. Landrigan co-chaired The Lancet Commission on Pollution and Health. This Commission found that pollution is responsible for 9 million premature deaths each year and for enormous economic losses. Dr. Landrigan served on active duty in the US Public Health Service from 1970 to 1985 and in the Medical Corps of the United States Naval Reserve from 1996 to 2005.
Richard Lemen, PhD, MSPH, is a retired Assistant Surgeon General of the United States and also served as the Acting Director and the Deputy Director of the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health before his retirement. He has been a practicing epidemiologist for more than forty years, and has taught graduate level courses on environmental and occupational health issues, including asbestos, at the Rollins School of Public Health at Emory University. He has also testified on behalf of asbestos victims; Dr. Lemen is a world-renowned author, speaker, and lecturer on this topic.
Celeste Monforton, DrPH, MPH, ADAO Prevention and Scientific Advisory Board Liaison is a lecturer in public health at Texas State University. Her research includes assessment of worker health and safety laws and policies, and their effectiveness in protecting workers from illnesses, disability and death. She has published articles on strategies used by economic interests, including the asbestos industry, to manipulate scientific evidence to create uncertainty about health risks in order to delay protective regulatory action and compensation. Prior to her academic appointment, Dr. Monforton was a federal employee at the U.S. Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA, 1991-1995) and Mine Safety and Health Administration (MSHA, 1996-2001). Dr. Monforton served on the special panels appointed by the West Virginia Governor to investigate the January 2006 Sago coal mine disaster that took the lives of 12 workers, and the April 2010 disaster at Massey Energy’s Upper Big Branch mine that killed 29 workers. Dr. Monforton is an active member of the American Public Health Association, and serves in a leadership position with the organization’s Occupational Health and Safety Section.
Linda Reinstein became a public health advocate after her husband, Alan, was diagnosed with mesothelioma in 2003, an asbestos-caused cancer. One year later, she co-founded the Asbestos Disease Awareness Organization (ADAO), dedicated to education, advocacy, and community support. During the past 16 years, Reinstein has been a strong political voice for major local, national, and international asbestos-related issues and frequently serves as a Congressional witness. Reinstein has shaped prevention and policy efforts, delivered over 200 national and international speeches, and built and sustained a diverse community to protect public health and the environment. As a strategic storyteller, Reinstein’s prevention and political campaigns have reached global audiences and affective change.
Robert Sussman, JD, is the principal in Sussman and Associates, a consulting firm that offers advice on energy and environmental policy issues to clients in the non-profit and private sectors. He is also an Adjunct Professor at the Georgetown University Law Center and was a Visiting Lecturer at Yale Law School. Bob served in the Obama Administration as C0-Chair of the Transition Team for EPA and then as Senior Policy Counsel to the EPA Administrator from 2009-2013. He served in the Clinton Administration as the EPA Deputy Administrator during 1993-94. At the end of 2007, Bob retired as a partner at the law firm of Latham & Watkins, where he headed the firm’s environmental practice in DC. Bob was a Senior Fellow at the Center for American Progress in 2008. He is currently serving on the Board on Environmental Science of the National Academy of Sciences and as a Commissioner of the Interstate Commission for the Potomac River Basin. Bob is a magna cum laude 1969 graduate of Yale College and a 1973 graduate of Yale Law School. Bob has posted numerous blogs on the Brookings Institution Website and elsewhere and published articles in the Environmental Law Reporter and other publications.
The American Public Health Association (APHA) champions the health of all people and all communities, strengthens the profession of public health, shares the latest research and information, promotes best practices and advocates for evidence-based public health policies. APHA is the only organization that combines a nearly 150-year perspective, a broad-based member community and the ability to influence federal policy to improve the public’s health.
The Center for Environmental Health (CEH) uses a multi-pronged approach of science, policy, litigation, and purchasing power to create real, tangible wins for public health. For twenty-five years, CEH has been fighting the unseen threats to our collective health. We are passionate about fighting for justice in courtrooms, boardrooms, and in neighborhoods across the country to protect children and families from toxic chemicals in our homes, workplaces, schools, and neighborhoods.
Environmental Information Association (EIA) members are companies, organizations and persons involved in the remediation of asbestos and other environmental hazards from buildings and facilities. Our members include the entire vertical spectrum of persons involved in the environmental remediation industry, including contractors, consultants, laboratories, training providers, regulators, equipment suppliers, owners and managers. Our mission is to collect, generate and disseminate information concerning environmental and occupational health hazards in the built environment to property owners and operators, interested professionals and the public.
Safer Chemicals, Healthy Families (SCHF) is a program of Toxic-Free Future. We educate and organize the public around federal chemical policy and work to transform the marketplace through our Mind the Store retail campaign by leveraging the purchasing power and market influence of large retailers to reduce, eliminate, and safely substitute hazardous chemicals. We build on work in the states and on our market successes, and campaign for policy action on highly toxic chemicals, to highlight and correct failures of chemical regulation.
Founded in 1972, Vermont Public Interest Research Group (VPIRG) is the largest nonprofit consumer and environmental advocacy organization in Vermont, with over 50,000 members and supporters. For almost 50 years, VPIRG has brought the voice of average Vermont citizens to public policy debates concerning the environment, health care, consumer protection, and democracy.
VPIRG’s mission is to promote and protect the health of Vermont’s people, environment and locally-based economy by informing and mobilizing citizens statewide.