Posted on December 20, 2019

There is undeniably strong momentum in Congress to ban asbestos as witnessed by the recent hearings and legislation. In fact, Susan Mayne, Ph.D., Director, Center for Food Safety and Applied Nutrition, U.S. Food and Drug Administration testified that “Asbestos is a known carcinogen so there is no safe level of asbestos in talc” during a hearing on December 2, 2019

The U.S. House of Representatives Subcommittee on Economic and Consumer Policy held a hearing on Tuesday, December 10, 2019, entitled “Examining Carcinogens in Talc and the Best Methods for Asbestos Detection.” This was the second hearing focused on talc and asbestos held in a week, and we at the Asbestos Disease Awareness Organization (ADAO) applauded the U.S. House of Representatives for their commitment to the public health of all Americans. 

Since 2004, ADAO has been dedicated to asbestos-disease prevention and policy efforts. We are deeply concerned that the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) are failing to protect Americans from asbestos, a known human carcinogen. For more than a century, asbestos exposure has been known to cause painful and debilitating diseases and deaths. Each year, nearly 40,000 Americans die from preventable asbestos-caused diseases such as mesothelioma, lung, gastrointestinal, laryngeal, colorectal and ovarian cancers and non-malignant respiratory diseases. 

The fight to ban asbestos goes back to 1989, when the EPA first attempted to ban the carcinogen. However, the ban was challenged in court and eventually overturned two years later. As a result, it still remains legal and lethal and is imported in tons each year to the U.S. 

ADAO feels strongly that the EPA and FDA are responsible for holding corporations accountable to using the most advanced scientific testing methods to detect asbestos and to uphold the existing laws and regulations to protect human health and the environment. 

In addition to corporate compliance and agency enforcement, ADAO strongly supports the Alan Reinstein Ban Asbestos Now Act (H.R. 1603) which recently passed the Energy and Commerce Full Committee by a vote of 47 -1, and other legislation to prevent cosmetic, consumer, and workplace asbestos exposures.  

H.R. 4296,Cosmetic Safety Enhancement Act of 2019,” circulated by Committee of Energy and Commerce Chairman Frank Pallone, would require cosmetics manufacturers to register their facilities and comprehensive cosmetic ingredient statements with FDA.

“Consumers today assume that the cosmetic products they purchase are safe and appropriately regulated, but unfortunately that isn’t always the case,” Rep. Pallone said in his opening statement on Dec. 2. “The truth is that Congress has not updated FDA’s authority to regulate the multi-billion-dollar cosmetic industry in over 80 years.”

Meanwhile, “Safe Cosmetics and Personal Care Products Act,” introduced by Rep. Schakowsky (D-IL) on September 12, 2019, would require manufacturers of personal care products sold in the United States to register with FDA. On top of other requirements, it would also ban toxic ingredients. 

And finally, H.R. 1816: Children’s Product Warning Label Act of 2019 would amend the Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act to require that children’s cosmetics containing talc include an appropriate warning unless the cosmetics are demonstrated to be asbestos-free, and for other purposes.As we work to ban asbestos, I strongly encourage you to purchase talc free products.  ADAO stands ready to assist the U.S. House of Representatives as they advance the legislation to protect Americans from all preventable asbestos-caused diseases.

Linda Reinstein
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