Will Congress Finally Ban Asbestos?

The dangers of asbestos have long been recognized in Oregon and around the world. In fact, the negative health effects of long-term exposure to asbestos have been so well publicized that many Americans believe that the mineral has already been completely banned in the United States.

However, that is not accurate, and asbestos continues to be used in a variety of products and settings. Moreover, some victims of long-term exposure to asbestos continue to develop mesothelioma and other illnesses.

Certainly, progress has been made through the years, including the introduction of safety regulations and other legal requirements intended to protect workers and others who may be exposed to the substance. But many people and organizations have long contended that there is no safe exposure to asbestos. Such voices advocate for a complete ban of asbestos.

In this article, we’ll discuss some new developments in Congress.

The Evidence Stacks Up Against Asbestos

According to Gina McCarthy and William K. Reilly, both of whom are former administrators of the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), asbestos kills nearly 40,000 Americans per year and causes suffering for thousands more.

In a letter to the New York Times in October 2019, the former administrators further noted that concerns were raised about asbestos as early as 1906 and that in the 1930s, research determined that 25 percent of workers making products that contained asbestos developed asbestosis. By the 1960s, research linked asbestos exposure to cancer.

As a result, the administrators note that almost 70 countries have banned the substance.

U.S. Efforts to Restrict the Use of Asbestos

The EPA previously created a rule that would have banned most uses of asbestos. That rule was challenged in court and overturned in a notable federal case. As a result, industries have been able to use the precedent to block enforcement efforts (PDF).

In 2016, the Lautenberg Chemical Safety Act was signed into law during President Obama’s administration. Many thought the EPA would use this Act as authority to further restrict asbestos, but that arguably hasn’t happened.

Most recently, H.R. 1603 (the Alan Reinstein Ban Asbestos Now Act of 2019) has been introduced into Congress. The Act would ban most uses of asbestos. The House Energy and Commerce Committee voted 47-1 in favor of an amended version of the bill on November 19, 2019. It looks like a strong start, but there’s obviously a long way to go before it becomes law. You can monitor the progress of the legislation here.

Call with Questions

Mesothelioma and other asbestos-related illnesses can take years, and even decades, to develop. Therefore, if you were exposed to asbestos in the past, even if you have retired or stopped working in the job through which you were exposed, have yourself immediately checked out by a qualified physician if you exhibit any signs of asbestos-related illness.

And if you have been diagnosed with mesothelioma or suffered any other harm as a result of your exposure, you likely have questions about your rights. We are here to answer them. The experienced asbestos and mesothelioma personal injury lawyers at Nelson MacNeil Rayfield can also help you investigate your claim and receive the compensation to which you are entitled.

We take on wrongful actors every day because we know that by holding wrongdoers accountable for their actions, we can better protect all of society.


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