Ahead of Global Asbestos Awareness Week, Merkley, Bonamici Introduce Bicameral Legislation to Ban Asbestos and Save Lives

Ahead of Global Asbestos Awareness Week, 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 (D-OR-01) teamed up to introduce the Alan Reinstein Ban Asbestos Now Act of 2023, bicameral legislation to prohibit the manufacture, processing, use, and distribution in commerce of commercial asbestos. The bill introduction comes ahead of Global Asbestos Awareness Week, which will take place from April 1-7, 2023.

“Every day that goes by without an asbestos ban is another day that Americans’ health and lives are being put in grave danger,” said Senator Merkley. “Any expert will tell you there simply is no level of exposure to asbestos that is safe for the human body. We’ve known for generations that asbestos is lethal, yet the U.S. has continued to allow some industries to value profits over people. Meanwhile, most of the developed world – over 60 nations – has acted to protect citizens by banning the commercial use of asbestos. It’s long past time for America to end this dangerous public health threat, and I’ll continue to do all I can to get this bill passed.”

“It is unacceptable that the United States continues to allow the importation, manufacture, and distribution of asbestos—a known carcinogen that has killed too many people in our country,” said Congresswoman Bonamici. “Workers, families, and communities must be protected against this deadly substance. I am reintroducing the Alan Reinstein Ban Asbestos Now Act with Senator Merkley to finally ban asbestos and to give some peace of mind to the families that have lost loved ones from asbestos-related diseases.”

Merkley and Bonamici have been longtime advocates for banning asbestos and have tirelessly fought to advance legislation that would keep this toxic poison away from workers and consumers. Last June, Senator Merkley chaired a hearing on the first-ever ban on manufacturing, processing, use, and distribution in commercial asbestos in the United States. The Alan Reinstein Ban Asbestos Now Act of 2023 will ban the importation and use of all six of the recognized asbestos fibers, plus winchite and richterite—expanding on the EPA’s recent proposed rulemaking, which will only ban one.

Last year, a joint investigation from ProPublica and NPR highlighted the stories of American workers who are experiencing the life-long health effects from working with asbestos. Merkley and Bonamici’s legislation would protect future generations of workers from unsafe working conditions.

The Alan Reinstein Ban Asbestos Now Act of 2023 is endorsed by Asbestos Disease Awareness Organization (ADAO), International Association of Fire Fighters (IAFF), American Public Health Association (APHA), Collegium Ramazzini, and The Environmental Information Association (EIA).

"ADAO applauds Senator Jeff Merkley and Representative Suzanne Bonamici for their unwavering dedication, leadership, and perseverance to protect Americans from deadly asbestos. Asbestos remains legal, lethal, and a far too common threat in the United States," said Linda Reinstein, President and Cofounder of Asbestos Disease Awareness Organization. "This long overdue asbestos ban legislation will protect all Americans — especially vulnerable workers, disadvantaged communities, consumers, first responders, and children—who are most at risk of being exposed to this deadly carcinogen."

“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.”

Full bill text can be found here.

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