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The Asbestos Disease Awareness Organization (ADAO) celebrated President Obama’s signing of the 21st century Frank R. Lautenberg Chemical Safety Act on June 22. In a press release, ADAO President Linda Reinstein stated:
“Today, a monumental step was taken in the fight against asbestos, a known human carcinogen for which there is no safe level of exposure. By signing into law the Frank R. Lautenberg Chemical Safety for the 21st Century Act, President Barack Obama ensured the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) will have the necessary tools to once and for all ban asbestos in America.”
The act passed the House of Representatives near the end of May and then again in the Senate earlier this month, despite a delay due to objections from Kentucky Republican Senator Rand Paul.
“Not only will this law help end the man-made asbestos crisis that still to this day takes as many as 15,000 American lives each year, but it will also empower the EPA to finally test and regulate the thousands of chemicals present in our daily lives,” said Reinstein.
The ADAO is an organization that promotes awareness about the dangers of asbestos and that played a critical role in making sure asbestos was one of the substances to be reviewed by the EPA under the new policies and procedures created by the law.
“I was honored to attend the signing ceremony on behalf of the ADAO community. Our staff and volunteers participated in countless hours of negotiations and numerous hearings to ensure that the collective voice of asbestos victims was heard loud and clear by policy makers,” said Reinstein.
In addition to the ADAO being invited to the signing, Bonnie Lautenberg, members of Congress who supported the bill, regulators such as industry reps from the American Chemical Council (ACC) and SC Johnson, and organizations like the March of Dimes and Environmental Defense Fund were in attendance.
“I am so very proud of each and every member of our community, from those who traveled to Washington, DC to share their stories to those who reached out to their elected officials from their homes. Each person played a critical role in this accomplishment and it is a privilege to represent our community at today’s event,” said Reinstein.
At the speech, the President touched on the limitations of previous laws. “The system was so complex, it was so burdensome, that our country hasn’t even been able to uphold a ban on asbestos, a known carcinogen that kills as many as 10,000 Americans every year,” said President Obama. “I think a lot of Americans would be shocked by that.”
Reinstein commented, “But make no mistake, we are not yet at the finish line. There is still much work to be done, and time is of the essence. Under the new law, the EPA may take as long as seven years to assess, regulate, and ban asbestos.
In that time, an estimated 100,000 Americans will lose their lives to asbestos-related diseases and countless more will be needlessly exposed to asbestos. The EPA must limit delay by including asbestos in the list of the first chemicals it evaluates and quickly exercising its authority under this legislation to ban asbestos.”