Posted on July 31, 2019

People are dying from asbestos-related illness, and there is no federal ban to stop it. Since 1989, when the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) failed to ban the import and use of asbestos—a known carcinogen—in the United States, over one million people have died. 

America needs a federal ban on imports, use, and distribution of all forms of asbestos and contaminated products. That is what the bicameral 2019 Alan Reinstein Ban Asbestos Now Act (ARBAN) Act would accomplish in under a year: A full ban, no loopholes, and no exemptions.

But, in recent months, there has been a renewed push for state-by-state bans. However, these bans would provide only a patchwork of ineffective regulations guaranteeing that imports, use, and exposures will continue. A recently signed state law in New Jersey and a bill working its way through the state legislature in Connecticut both fail to ban raw asbestos imports and use. 

While we admire the effort to ban asbestos and protect citizens, the Asbestos Disease Awareness Organization knows that the asbestos industry will only stop dealing with this deadly chemical if federal law requires it. Until then, profit will always outweigh public health, just like it did back in 1991 when the EPA’s asbestos ban was overturned in court, as shown through ADAO’s report, “EPA’s Failure to Ban Asbestos: The Impact from 1989 – 2019 on Public Health, Environment, and the Economy.”

That’s why we are continuing to push for ARBAN. The U.S. House and Senate ARBAN bills have over 50 cosponsors, including multiple 2020 presidential candidates. Attorneys General from 18 states have voiced support for the bicameral and bipartisan bill, and last month, for the first time, the U.S. House held a hearing about the need to ban asbestos.  

We put together this fact sheet so that everyone can understand the danger state-by-state legislature poses. Now is not the time to make compromises or sacrifices when it comes to lives at risk. We have a plan, and the momentum, to ban asbestos once and for all in the United States. 

Who started the Ban Asbestos State by State campaign?

Mesothelioma Applied Research Foundation/Cure Meso/MesoFoundation 


Did the Mesothelioma Applied Research Foundation/Cure Meso consult with ADAO?

Regretfully, the Ban Asbestos State by State campaign started without any communication or collaboration from ADAO and well-known experts.


Why didn’t the Mesothelioma Applied Research Foundation/Cure Meso consult with ADAO?

As stated on MARF’s website: “…we believe that the efforts to bring ban asbestos bills up for votes in state governments will bring much-needed attention to the issue.”


Has Mesothelioma Applied Research Foundation/Cure Meso worked in collaboration with ADAO to ban asbestos?

No.  During the past 15 years, MARF has never worked with ADAO on education or advocacy to ban asbestos. 


Will the New Jersey asbestos law, New Jersey (A 4416), and/or Connecticut Senate Bill No. 47 ban asbestos?

The New Jersey law, “Prohibits sale or distribution of products containing asbestos” only prohibits the sale and distribution of products containing asbestos. It imposes no restrictions on the importation and use of raw asbestos. Raw asbestos imports and the use of the raw asbestos by the chlor-alkali industry are the largest contributors to the presence of asbestos in the US. In addition, the low fine of $2,500 under the New Jersey bill and lack of enforcement resources will render this law ineffective. 


Connecticut Senate Bill No. 47 The Connecticut bill, “An Act Prohibiting the Sale of Goods and Use of Building Materials Containing Asbestos,” prohibits introducing, or delivering for introduction into commerce any asbestos-containing item that is subject to the U.S.

Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) Final Rule (SNUR). In addition, the low fine of $1,000 under the Connecticut bill and lack of enforcement resources will render this law ineffective. 


Will the New Jersey asbestos law, New Jersey (A 4416), prohibit raw asbestos imports?

No. The law states it will “prohibit the sale or distribution of products containing asbestos.”


Will the MARF’s state-by-state asbestos ban state by state help to end asbestos mining and use?


  • There is no ban on raw asbestos imports and use.
  • States lack authority to prohibit imports; the regulation of international trade is reserved to the federal government under the Constitution. 
  • Extraordinarily low fines and inadequate enforcement. 
  • Individual states lack the resources to effectively enforce any asbestos bans that they may pass. 
  • States are unable to properly identify contaminated products. 


Does the US still import raw asbestos or products containing asbestos?

Yes, and both are a concern.  In 2018, the chlor-alkali industry imported 750 metric tons of asbestos, an increase over previous years. This asbestos is used at 15 plants in several states and presents an exposure risk during importation, transport, use and disposal. The U.S. also continues to import several asbestos-containing products to which workers and consumers are exposed and asbestos contamination has been detected in cosmetics and childrens’ products. According to the US Geological Survey, “an unknown quantity of asbestos was imported within manufactured products, including asbestos-containing brake materials, rubber sheets for gaskets, tile, wallpaper, and potentially asbestos-cement pipe and knitted fabrics.”


Is there a federal asbestos ban bill?

Yes, in March 2019 the Alan Reinstein Ban Asbestos Now (ARBAN) Act was introduced.


How will the bicameral ARBAN Act work?

  • 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 US commerce, where and how it is used, and who is exposed;  
  • Require the EPA and the Departments of Labor and Human Services to conduct a comprehensive study of risks presented by the presence of asbestos where it was used in building construction decades ago, including in millions of residences, businesses, factories, public buildings, and schools; 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.


Who introduced the bicameral ARBAN Act? 

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


Who are the ARBAN Act Congressional co-sponsors? 

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, the ARBAN Act 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), 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).


What organizations and trade unions support the ARBAN Act?

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).


Who opposes the ARBAN Act?

The primary opposition comes from the American Chemistry Council (ACC) and the Chlor-Alkali Industry.  In fact Mike Walls, ACC, testified on May 8, 2019, “We certainly are not opposing a ban for all other uses of asbestos.”


How can I help? 

Three ways:

  1. Share how asbestos has impact you through ADAO’s Share Your Story platform.  
  2. Donate to ADAO.
  3. Share ADAO’s blogs and educational materials on your social media platforms.


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