For the fourteenth time, the U.S. Senate introduced the National Asbestos Awareness Week Resolution to be observed April 1-7, 2018. The Asbestos Disease Awareness Organization (ADAO) praised the senate and the bipartisan cosponsors, led by Senator Jon Tester (D-MT) for bringing awareness to these preventable asbestos-related diseases. Other cosponsors were Senators Stve Daines (R-MT), Ben Cardin (D-MD), Dick Durbin (D-IL), Dianne Feinstein (D-RI), Sheldon Whitehouse (D_RI), Kamala Harris (D_CA), Patrick Leahy (D_VT), Jeff Merkley (D-OR), Cory Booker (D-NJ), Edward Markey (D-MA), Johnny Isakson (R-GA), and Elizabeth Warren (D-MA). There is expectation that this Fourteenth Resolution, paired with the U.S. Surgeon General’s asbestos warning, will again bring the dangers of asbestos to the forefront and save lives.
Aren’t asbestos problems an issue of the past?
Though asbestos use has declined in the US, deaths caused by asbestos have risen according to a study by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). There are two primary reasons for this:
First, asbestos-related diseases are generally diagnosed decades after exposure. Exposures from the peak usage years of the 1970s are still showing up as deadly diseases for workers of that era.
Secondly, the import and use of asbestos continues to this day in the US. Even patients in the 25-44 age range are dying from malignant mesothelioma demonstrating the ongoing occupational, environmental, and secondary exposure risks. There is no safe type of asbestos or usage. Fibers of this mineral have been found in makeup marketed to young teens as well as in other consumer products. It is still used in brake pads. Other dangers exist when asbestos used in construction or in manufacturing is disturbed in any way – often in remodeling.
The EPA and asbestos
Currently the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is evaluating the risks of asbestos under the Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA). The ADAO emphasizes again the necessity of banning asbestos in the US. The past 13 Senate Asbestos Awareness Resolutions combined with five warnings from the U.S. Surgeon General’s office, and President Obama’s recognition of asbestos as a deadly carcinogen, have all confirmed its undue risk to human health and the environment.
The World Health Organization (WHO) affirms, “Exposure to asbestos, including chrysotile, causes cancer of the lung, larynx, and ovaries, and also mesothelioma (a cancer of the pleural and peritoneal linings”. Asbestos exposure is also responsible for other diseases such as asbestosis (fibrosis of the lungs), and plaques, thickening and effusion in the pleura.”
The EPA and asbestos – how you can help
Since the agency is currently evaluating asbestos risks, it is vitally important for voices declaring the dangers be heard. The cooperation of the EPA is necessary for a total ban to be implemented.
If you understand the issues with asbestos and know a ban is necessary, you can contact your senators to support all efforts for the ban. You can also call an asbestos hotline of the EPA.
• Phone: 800-368-5888 or (in the DC area) 202-566-1970
• Hours: 8:30 a.m. and 4:30 p.m. EST
• Type of Coverage: A member of the ASBO staff will answer calls
• Description: The Asbestos and Small Business Ombudsman (ASBO) operates a toll-free hotline for the convenience of small businesses, trade associations, and the general public, seeking free, confidential help as it relates to asbestos and a variety of environmental regulatory topics.