Earlier this year, reform bills were introduced in congressional subcommittees that would have tightened the 34-year-old Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA) and made it easier for the EPA to take dangerous chemicals off the market, including the ability to finally ban asbestos. While the bills were initially met with wide industry support, after numerous hearings and billions of lobbying dollars spent by the chemical industry, these efforts to protect public health appear to be stalled.
In simplest terms, these bills, if passed, would shift accountability from the EPA to the chemical industry to prove products are safe before being allowed on the market. The current system permits the EPA to require safety testing only when evidence surfaces that a chemical is dangerous. Opponents argued that these bills would be too costly for businesses, impede innovation and “stigmatize manufacturers.”
While these bills are stalled and not dead (Congressmen have vowed to reintroduce the legislation early next year) it is frustrating to see an asbestos ban delayed. No matter what side of the TSCA debate you’re on, when it comes to proving that a material is dangerous, it doesn’t get more obvious than the health effects that can result from asbestos exposure.
Asbestos exposure has been directly linked to diseases such as lung cancer, asbestosis and mesothelioma, yet the EPA still has not been able to act under TSCA to ban the material from the U.S. While it’s frustrating to see another delay in the fight to eliminate this toxic material, it’s important to note that Congress clearly is seeing the importance of this issue and trying to create meaningful reform.
With campaigns and elections underway, now is as good of a time as ever to make your voice heard and write a letter to Congress urging them to keep our families safe and ban asbestos. Please take a moment to use our simple form on our homepage to sign a letter and make a difference today!