Merkley, Bonamici Introduce Bicameral Legislation to Ban Asbestos and Save Lives

Washington, D.C. – Oregon’s U.S. Senator Jeff Merkley and Congresswoman Suzanne Bonamici today introduced the Alan Reinstein Ban Asbestos Now Act of 2022, legislation to prohibit the manufacture, processing, use, and distribution in commerce of commercial asbestos.  

“Too many Americans have sat at the bedside watching helplessly as their loved ones die from asbestos. This is totally avoidable if America just bans it,” said Senator Merkley. “We’ve known for generations that asbestos is lethal, yet some industries’ profits have been valued over the lives of firefighters, construction workers, and other Americans exposed to this toxic substance. Other developed nations have already acted to protect their citizens from this deadly substance by banning asbestos. Why has America not done the same? Congresswoman Bonamici and I know it’s long past time for America to end this dangerous public health threat once and for all.” 

“It is long past time for the United States to ban asbestos,” said Congresswoman Suzanne Bonamici. “It is unacceptable that this known carcinogen continues to threaten our communities. I am pleased to reintroduce the Alan Reinstein Ban Asbestos Now Act with Senator Merkley to protect workers and families by finally banning the importation, manufacture, and distribution of asbestos.”

Merkley and Bonamici have been longtime advocates for banning asbestos and have tirelessly fought to introduce legislation that would keep this toxic poison away from consumers. The Alan Reinstein Ban Asbestos Now Act of 2022 will ban the importation and use of all six of the recognized asbestos fibers, expanding on the EPA’s recent proposed rulemaking which will only ban one.  

Full bill text can be found here

“ADAO applauds Senator Jeff Merkley and Representative Suzanne Bonamici for their unwavering dedication, leadership and perseverance to protect Americans from deadly asbestos, a man-made disaster that kills nearly 40,000 people each year,” said Linda Reinstein, ADAO President and Cofounder. “Building on the previous landmark legislative steps and successes, the Alan Reinstein Ban Asbestos Now Act of 2022 deserves to get the full attention of Congress and fast tracked to President Biden’s desk for immediate enactment. Named after my late husband, Alan, their bill represents the hundreds of thousands of “Alans” throughout our nation who have been harmed or silenced by asbestos, a carcinogen we have known is deadly since at least the 60s.”

“Now that ARBAN has been moved forward, as a physician who has spent more than fifty years working around the world on asbestos issues, I am hopeful the banning of asbestos here in America will take place, joining some seventy other countries, and that we can protect lives moving forward since we know such bans lead, over time, to less disease among all those exposed,” said Arthur L. Frank MD, PhD, Co-Chair of the ADAO Scientific Advisory Board

“The science is clear that there is no safe level of exposure to asbestos. Asbestos causes mesothelioma and cancer of the lung, larynx and ovaries. Exposure to asbestos is also strongly associated with asbestosis and pleural disease. We thank Senator Merkley and Representative Bonamici for introducing the Alan Reinstein Ban Asbestos Now Act of 2022. If enacted, the legislation would be a significant step forward to protecting the health of workers and communities by reducing exposure to asbestos,” said Georges C. Benjamin, MD, MACP, Executive Director of American Public Health Association.

“Cancer is the single greatest threat to America’s fire fighters and the leading cause of death among our hometown heroes. Our fire fighters suffer from asbestos caused cancers and diseases at more than twice the rate of the average American, and therefore the IAFF is steadfastly supporting the Alan Reinstein Ban Asbestos Now Act (ARBAN Act),” said Edward A. Kelly, General President of the International Association of Fire Fighters. “A national ban on the importation, distribution, and use of asbestos is long overdue. I am proud to endorse the ARBAN Act as introduced by Senator Jeff Merkley and Representative Suzanne Bonamici. I thank them for their continued strong support of our brother and sister fire fighters and our IAFF as we continue our battle to eliminate occupational cancers.”