Construction Industry Lobby Blocks Bill To Ban Asbestos

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Friday, October 2, 2020

WASHINGTON – Legislation to ban the future use and importation of the notorious and deadly carcinogen asbestos was blocked from passing the House Thursday night after lobbyists representing a powerful sector of the building and construction industry objected.

The National Stone, Sand and Gravel Association, or NSSGA, stopped the Alan Reinstein Ban Asbestos Now Act, or ARBAN (H.R.1603,) from coming up for a vote over complaints that the definition of asbestos in the legislation was too broad, arguing it “deviates from the longstanding, mineralogically accurate definition.”  

However, contrary to NSSGA’s claims, there is no widely accepted definition of asbestos, and the way it is defined in the ARBAN bill draws from established and health-protective approaches from federal government agencies, including the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health. NIOSH has publicly stated concerns about the scientific challenges posed by an overly narrow definition of the carcinogen that continues to kill up to 15,000 Americans a year.

“Some may think the risk of exposure to asbestos is low and the deadly diseases it causes are rare, but that is the furthest thing from the truth,” said EWG Senior Vice President for Government Affairs Scott Faber. “Asbestos-related diseases continue to kill thousands of people each year in this country, and time and again, asbestos has contaminated talc-based products, including baby powder, makeup and children’s toys. It’s ridiculous that companies are throwing sand in the gears of the legislative process.”

Geologically, talc and asbestos can naturally occur alongside each other in rock. Talc deposits in many regions are contaminated with asbestos fibers. 

Asbestos-triggered diseases kill up to 15,000 Americans each year, and since its introduction in the 1930s, it has devastated hundreds of thousands of American families. Fifty-eight nations have banned asbestos, but in 1991, a federal court overturned the Environmental Protection Agency’s ban.

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