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Senators Demand Congress Ban on Asbestos

Senators Demand Congress Ban on AsbestosThe public has long known about the dangers of asbestos, yet companies whose manufacturing practices involve the lethal substance continue to insist that they are safe.

In the latest example, a ProPublica report detailed the unforgivably dangerous working conditions at a U.S. chemical plant that relies on asbestos to make chlorine. The report led Democratic Senator Jeff Merkley and Democratic Representative Suzanne Bonamici, both of Oregon, to sponsor what is known as the Alan Reinstein Ban Asbestos Now Act.

I’ll discuss the potential ban below, and remember that a Buttafuoco & Associates mesothelioma attorney serving New York may be of help if you have been exposed to asbestos and diagnosed with cancer.

What is the Alan Reinstein Ban Asbestos Now Act?

The act, which would permanently ban not only the use of asbestos, but would outlaw importing it into the U.S., was named after Alan Reinstein who died of mesothelioma in 2006.

The call for legislation comes after a scathing ProPublica report on the chlorine industry, which has long used asbestos in its manufacturing process. This investigation focused specifically on the U.S.’s oldest chlorine plant, OxyChem in Niagara Falls, and featured many alarming statements from workers. They reported that asbestos was everywhere in the plant: coating ceilings, walls, and even fibers in their clothes. When they tried to get the company to do something, they were shut down.

Even reports done by OxyChem showed that workers were exposed to dangerous levels of asbestos. While OxyChem has since closed, this does nothing for the workers who were placed in danger, as asbestos can stay in the body for decades before mesothelioma or diseases arrive. Additionally, eight U.S. chlorine plants still use asbestos in their production methods, putting even more workers at risk.

Beyond this specific example, asbestos is frequently used in the construction industry, and can be found in a variety of allegedly safe products. If you are concerned that your mesothelioma diagnosis was the result of exposure to asbestos, get in touch with a New York mesothelioma attorney at Buttafuoco & Associates today. We can tell you whether you have a case and discuss your rights.

Why Hasn’t the U.S. Banned Asbestos?

Many countries across the world have banned asbestos, yet the U.S. refuses, despite the fact that the substance is a known lethal carcinogen. In 1989, the Environmental Protection Agency tried to ban asbestos, but federal courts overturned it. The chemical industry has fought these bans tooth and nail, insisting that they protect their workers with strict safety regulations.

Because public health organizations were not allowed to enter the plants to evaluate their safety, these crimes went unreported.

It took until 2020 for the EPA to determine that chlorine workers were being exposed to unacceptable volumes of asbestos. In April 2022, the agency again proposed a ban on asbestos. Their hope is that this time it will go through, but lawmakers are concerned that chemical companies will fight hard to prevent this from happening.

This is why lawmakers Merkley and Bonamici are insisting that Congress ban asbestos. Not only would a Congress ban speed up the process and put a stop to unnecessary deaths, but it would make it significantly more difficult for the chlorine industry to win in court. Additionally, the EPA ban would include only a single type of asbestos used in the U.S., while the bill would ban all six types commonly used here.

Chlorine industry representatives continue to insist that asbestos is being used safely. They are already fighting back, bringing in attorneys general from 12 Republican-led states who claim that the impact on the industry would be unreasonable. Companies also continue to insist that they require asbestos to make chlorine, when in reality there are other options.

By and large, companies refuse to change their practices due to the expense.

Have You Been Diagnosed with Asbestos-Related Cancer?

In New York and New Jersey, construction workers are especially at risk for asbestos exposure. Likewise, women who use talc products may also be at risk. Regardless of how you were exposed, this is unacceptable.

If you have received a mesothelioma diagnosis and believe your cancer was caused by asbestos containing materials, you may be entitled to damages for medical bills, pain, suffering, and other losses. At Buttafuoco & Associates, we believe in fighting for clients against big companies, and we will fight for you, too. If you aren’t sure whether you have a case, get in touch with us for a free consultation.

Call 1-800-NOW-HURT today.


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