Asbestos exposure causes more than 40,000 deaths each year in this country, according to the chair of the U.S. House Energy and Commerce Committee. But a recent bill to ban most uses of asbestos has stalled in the U.S. Senate.
Asbestos use has not stopped
Asbestos is still being used in this country in an unexpectedly high number of products, especially in the automotive industry. Asbestos has been blamed for causing serious and potentially fatal diseases such as lung cancer, mesothelioma, and asbestosis.
The Alan Reinstein Ban Asbestos Now Act would prohibit the production, use and importing of asbestos. If enacted, this bill would implement a ban on asbestos within one year from Congressional passage. Some limited exceptions would be allowed, however.
This bill made progress in Congress after the Environmental Protection Agency took steps last year to restrict asbestos but did not impose an outright ban. The Senate Energy and Commerce Committee approved the bill with only one negative vote.
But the measure then hit an obstacle. Senate Republicans objected to language in the bill that was intended to allow for the continuation of ongoing lawsuits alleging harm from cosmetic talcum powder. Many women have successfully sued over claims that the use of asbestos contaminated baby powder was linked to their ovarian cancer.
Republicans claim that this language would increase litigation by creating questions about the bill’s intent. This, according to GOP lawmakers, would cause uncertainty with interpreting and implementing this measure. Republicans said they would support this bill if the clause was removed.
This bill however would amend the federal Toxic Substances Control Act, which not deal with the cosmetic uses of asbestos.
These legislative delays will allow the dangers and risks of asbestos exposure to continue.