Posted on April 6, 2015
Each year, ADAO dedicates April 1-7 to increasing awareness of asbestos and preventing exposure by bringing together experts and victims from around the world to share, learn, and take action. To view all 7 days of Global Asbestos Awareness Week (GAAW) contributors and content on our landing page, please click here.
This day of Global Asbestos Awareness Week is dedicated to Lou, a mesothelioma warrior. Click here to read her story, “I Will Not Die in Vain.”
Shouldn’t a chemical safety law overhaul guarantee another look at asbestos? by Tina Sigurdson, Staff Attorney, Environmental Working Group (EWG)
“In 1989, the federal Environmental Protection Agency tried to ban asbestos. The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit threw out most of the agency’s regulations in 1991. This case, commonly called Corrosion Proof Fittings, is frequently cited as an example of just how broken the Toxic Substances Control Act really is.
Almost 25 years later, hundreds of thousands of pounds of raw asbestos and asbestos-laden materials are still being imported into the U.S. annually. In fact, since 2006, more than 8 million pounds have arrived through our ports.
Now, the Senate is debating two competing bills for overhauling the TSCA law. The first is a chemical industry-backed (and authored?) bill, proposed by Sens. Tom Udall (D-N.M.), based on an earlier bill introduced by Sen. David Vitter (R-La.). The second is a bill proposed by Sens. Barbara Boxer (D-Calif.) and Ed Markey (D-Mass.). They named it the Alan Reinstein and Trevor Schaefer Toxic Chemical Protection Act, for Alan Reinstein who died in 2006 of mesothelioma, and Trevor Schaefer, who survived brain cancer as a young child. Unlike the industry-backed bill, many environmental and public health groups support the Boxer-Markey proposal.
One of the many stark differences between the two proposals is their approach to regulating asbestos. The Boxer-Markey proposal would require the EPA to reassess the risks of asbestos within two years of the bill’s enactment and take appropriate regulatory action within the following year.
The Udall-Vitter bill fails to mention asbestos.
The Boxer-Markey bill would compel the EPA to begin evaluation of 75 chemicals within the first five years of enactment and, as soon as fees are in place, would add three more chemicals to the queue every time EPA completed a chemical review. The Udall-Vitter bill sets a slower pace, requiring the EPA to launch reviews of 25 chemicals in the first five years and to add one substance to the queue with every completed review. The bottom line: the Udall-Vitter bill would not guarantee a review of asbestos anytime soon.
More than 10,000 people die from asbestos-related disease each year in the U.S. Wouldn’t real reform of our nation’s chemical policy require the EPA to take a second look at this known killer?”
Each year, upon the passage of the U.S. Senate’s “National Asbestos Awareness Week” Resolution, in addition to a week of awareness, the Senate “urges the Surgeon General of the United States to warn and educate people about the public health issue of asbestos exposure, which may be hazardous to their health.”