Update on Banning Asbestos in the United States

Asbestos exposure is the leading cause of most people that are diagnosed with malignant mesothelioma, and is linked to the deaths of approximately 40,000 Americans a year. Those deaths are caused by lung cancer, asbestosis, cancer of the larynx, and ovarian cancer.

Asbestos is a naturally occurring mineral that is also a known carcinogen, and is not banned in the United States. The importing of asbestos into the United States has actually increased in recent years. Asbestos is found in houses in insulation and multiple products have asbestos in them.

The Alan Reinstein Ban Asbestos Now Act of 2019 is a bill that will ban asbestos importation into the United States. The bill has been named for Alan Reinstein, the late husband of Linda Reinstein who died of malignant mesothelioma. Linda Reinstein is one of the co-founders of Asbestos Disease Awareness Foundation who has been working tirelessly for banning asbestos for many years. 

According to the ADAO website, the bill would:

  • Ban importation and use of asbestos and asbestos containing products within one year of enactment. 
  • Require that Chlor-alkali plants using asbestos diaphragms would need to eliminate the use of asbestos and convert to non-asbestos technology following a transition period.
  • 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.
  • Require the National Academy of Sciences (NAS) to 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.
  • Stringently control the presence of asbestos contaminants in consumer products and construction materials.
  • Apply to the hazardous Libby Amphibole form of asbestos, found in attic insulation in millions of homes.

This bill was advanced out of the Committee on Energy and Commerce by a bipartisan vote on November 19th. The next step is to be voted on by the full House of Representatives. During these divisive partisan political times this is a very important step toward the goal of passing this bill into law.

As we pause this week to give thanks for our blessings it is also a time to reflect. For the mesothelioma community it is a time to be thankful for the support of tireless advocates for all their work on making banning asbestos in the United States closer to reality.  The work of a few to benefit all. Thank you for trying to make this world a safer, healthier planet.

If you or someone you love has been diagnosed, please reach out to Belluck & Fox for a free consultation. With laws and information available to patients changing all the time, we can be the experts that help you find justice.