The Asbestos Disease Awareness Organization (ADAO) recognizes the U.S. Senate for its reform of the Toxic Substances Control Act of 1976 (TSCA), passing the Frank R. Lautenberg Chemical Safety for the 21st Century Act (S. 697). This legislation finally recognizes asbestos as a carcinogen and a high-priority chemical that calls for stronger public health and environmental protection.
The bill replaces the Toxic Substances Control Act of 1976, which was created to govern the use of everyday chemicals, but completely failed to do so. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) says it was given “little authority to enforce TSCA” and therefore couldn’t ban asbestos.
Senator Barbara Boxer played a huge role in the reform. “I have been assured that as the House and Senate bills are merged into one, the voices of those who have been deeply affected, including nurses, breast cancer survivors, asbestos victims, and children will be heard. I will have the opportunity to be in the room at every step and express their views,” said Boxer.
Senators Tom Udall and David Vitter sponsored the bill and it received support from the House and Senate, as well as the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, Environmental Defense Fund (EDF), National Association of Manufacturers, and the chemical industry. Chemical companies that provided ample support included DuPont, Dow Chemical Co., and the National Association of Chemical Distributors (NACD).
The EDF specifically stated the 1976 TSCA currently in place doesn’t deliver the necessary information to identify unsafe chemicals and safer alternatives, lacks government transparency, imposes a cost-benefit safety standard that hinders actions against carcinogens, and lacks incentives for the chemical industry to provide safer solutions.
According to the EDF, the cost-benefit safety standard is the reason why the EPA hasn’t been able to ban asbestos.
The bill will still need to go through the reconciliation process between the U.S. House and the U.S. Senate before it’s presented to the President for his review and signature of approval.
This new legislation intends to ensure protection of public health from the 85,000 chemicals approved for use, give the EPA what it needs to make change, and lower incidences of diseases from toxins, like mesothelioma cancer and other asbestos-related diseases by banning asbestos.
The new law could mandate safety reviews for all chemicals currently used commercially; order a safety finding for chemicals prior to market availability; replace the TSCA cost-benefits standard with a health-based safety standard; call out explicit protection of pregnant women, children, and other vulnerable populations; and give the EPA more authority to require testing of existing and new chemicals.
The ADAO is asking its supporters to continue to share their stories and contact an ADAO regional representative for more ways to help the movement of creating awareness and banning asbestos across the globe.