Posted on May 31, 2019
Updated on November 22, 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)

As approved by the House Energy and Commerce Committee on November 19, 2019, H.R. 1603 would accomplish several critical public health objectives:

  • It would ban importation and use of asbestos and asbestos containing products within one year of enactment.
    Chlor-alkali plants using asbestos diaphragms would need to eliminate the use of asbestos and convert to non-asbestos technology following a transition period.
  • The bill would establish a new Right-to-Know program to require anyone who has imported, processed and distributed asbestos to report and disclose to the public how much asbestos has been in U.S. commerce, where and how it has been used, and who has been exposed.
  • The National Academy of Sciences (NAS) would conduct a comprehensive study of risks presented by “legacy” asbestos used in buildings constructed decades ago but still present in millions of residences, businesses, factories, public buildings, and schools.
  • The presence of asbestos contaminants in consumer products and construction materials would be stringently controlled.
  • The hazardous Libby Amphibole form of asbestos, found in attic insulation in millions of homes, would be covered by the ban.

We are grateful to the ARBAN 2019 cosponsors and supporters. In the Senate, the bill is cosponsored by 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).

In the House, ARBAN is cosponsored by Reps. 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), Debra Haaland (D-NM-1), 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), Lauren Underwood (D-IL-14),  Jefferson Van Drew (D-NJ-2), Nydia M. Velazquez (D-NY-7), and  Peter Welch, (D-VT-At Large).

ARBAN is supported by the Attorneys General of California, Connecticut, Delaware, Hawaii, Iowa, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Minnesota, New Jersey, New York, North Carolina,Oregon, Rhode Island, Vermont, Virginia, Washington, and the District of Columbia: AFL-CIO; American Federation of Teachers; American Public Health Association; Center for Environmental Health; Environmental Protection Network; Canadian Environmental Law Association; Collegium Ramazzini; Environmental Health Strategy Center; Environmental Information Association; Environmental Working Group; The Fealgood Foundation; Global Ban Asbestos Network; GO 2 Foundation for Lung Cancer; Hazards: International Association of Heat and Frost Insulators and Allied Workers; International Association of Fire Fighters; Less Cancer; Natural Resources Defense Council; OK International; Public Citizen; Safer Chemicals, Healthy Families; Toxic-Free Future; United Association of Journeymen and Apprentices of the Plumbing and Pipe Fitting Industry; United States Public Interest Research Groups; and Internationally, Associação Brasileira dos Expostos ao Amianto.

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Linda Reinstein
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