Asbestos Bill Introduced to the US Senate

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Asbestos exposure victims have always looked up to US Senator Barbara Boxer for her strong stance on eradicating asbestos use ever since the Asbestos Disease Organization (ADAO) came into existence. Together with another US Senator, Jon Tester, she has successfully introduced a new bill to the U.S. Senate in September, called the Alan Reinstein Ban Asbestos Now Act of 2016.

This act has successfully accelerated the ban on asbestos, though many such attempts in the past have not succeeded.

This act has the following implications:

• Bans not just the import of asbestos but also both its present and future uses.

• Urges the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to ban the manufacturing, processing, usage, and commercial dissemination of asbestos within 18 months of the bill’s enactment.

• Ensures the EPA can ban asbestos in the shortest possible timeframe.

This act is similar to the Frank R. Lautenberg Chemical Safety Act for the 21st Century passed in summer 2016. The Lautenberg Act is a modern and renewed version of the Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA) approved in 1976. Given that the TSCA is 40 years old and unable to ban many chemicals posing a threat to safety and health, the environmental law officials and the public health service providers’ have not found it to be very effective.

In comparison to the TSCA, The Lautenberg Act urged the EPA to gauge all chemicals against a higher safety benchmark than ever before. It also enforced a deadline for the EPA to act. The only shortcoming of the Lautenberg Act was that it gave the EPA 12 years to evaluate and regulate usage of asbestos. Thus, the Alan Reinstein Ban Asbestos Now Act of 2016 is better than the Lautenberg Act as it ensures the EPA will act in a much shorter time period to curb the hazardous effects of asbestos.

Through this bill, US Senator Barbara Boxer and Jon Tester are urging Congress to protect the health of the people and the environment against asbestos. The bill has not been passed by the Senate or House as of yet.

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