Most people in North Carolina and elsewhere assume that the United States has prohibited the use of asbestos because of the extreme health risks that are associated with its use. Surprisingly, no such ban has ever been enacted at the federal level. The Environmental Protection Agency has recently been directed to identify the 10 most harmful substances used by American industry, and asbestos may be on this list when it is published. In the meantime, a more definitive step to ban asbestos was recently taken by California Sen. Barbara Boxer, who introduced legislation that is intended to completely eliminate human exposure to asbestos.
The bill, the Alan Reinstein Ban Asbestos Now Act of 2016, would amend the Toxic Substances Control Act by providing explicit directions to the EPA to take a number of specified steps to “permanently eliminate the possibility of exposure to asbestos” within 18 months of the bill’s passage. The bill requires the EPA to promulgate regulations that would impose a variety of prohibitions and restrictions on the manufacture and use of asbestos and asbestos-containing products. The EPA would also be required to compile and publish an assessment of the current and reasonably foreseeable importation, distribution, use and exposure to asbestos products in the United States.
Sen. Boxer’s bill also allows the president to grant exemptions from these restrictions to protect national security. Any such exemption would be based upon a showing that no reasonable alternative exists and that the use of asbestos would not cause “an unreasonable risk” to human health or the environment. Any such exemption could not extend beyond three years. The bill has been referred to the Senate Committee on the Environment and Public Works.
Even if this bill were to be passed and signed by the president, many people will suffer from the consequences of asbestos product exposure over the last few decades. A ban on asbestos will come too late to offer assistance. Instead, persons who are suffering from asbestos-related diseases, such as mesothelioma, asbestosis or lung cancer may wish to consult an attorney who specializes in handling product liability claims for damages caused by asbestos exposure. A knowledgeable attorney can provide a helpful analysis of the facts and law of the case and provide an estimate of the likelihood of recovering damages for medical expenses, lost income and pain and suffering.
Source: Chemical Watch, “Asbestos, BPA ban bills introduced in US Congress,” Kelly Franklin, Oct. 6, 2016