An important bill was introduced recently on Capitol Hill—and it has the potential to finally ban asbestos in the United States. A press release from Senator Edward Markey’s office notes that the Alan Reinstein and Trevor Schaefer Toxic Chemical Protection Act seeks to:
- Protect vulnerable populations from harmful toxins
- Provide stronger safety standards and quicker reviews of chemicals
- Ensure exposure from chemical spills and leaks are addressed
- Require the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to act quickly to consider a ban on asbestos
Who Introduced This Bill and Why?
The Alan Reinstein and Trevor Schaefer Toxic Chemical Protection Act is informally known as the Boxer-Markey bill because it was introduced by Senators Barbara Boxer (D-CA) and Edward Markey (D-MA). Senator Boxer is a Ranking Member of the Environment and Public Works Committee, while Senator Markey is a Ranking Member of the Subcommittee on Superfund, Waste Management, and Regulatory Oversight.
The Boxer-Markey bill would reform the 1976 Toxic Substances Control Act. In a press release on his website, Senator Markey said: “Our outdated and ineffective federal chemical law needs an update that protects today’s children and every generation to follow.”
Who Is the Bill Named After?
Alan Reinstein was a victim of mesothelioma who passed away in 2006 at the age of 66. Mesothelioma is a deadly cancer that is caused by exposure to asbestos. Reinstein’s wife, Linda, co-founded the Asbestos Disease Awareness Organization (ADAO) in 2004 and she is a big supporter of this bill. In a press release published on Senator Markey’s website, Linda Reinstein was quoted as saying:
“This bill, named after my late husband Alan, represents not only his courageous battle with mesothelioma, which he lost 9 years ago, but it also represents the hundreds of thousands of other asbestos victims—past, present, and future—along with Americans who’ve been affected by other toxic chemicals. Asbestos is still legal in the United States, and the Alan Reinstein and Trevor Schaefer Toxic Chemical Protection Act will enable the EPA to, once and for all, ban asbestos. Along with the coalition of over 500 organizations that have worked together to support this bill, we are grateful for its introduction.”
Trevor Schaefer was diagnosed with brain cancer at the age of 13. Now, 12 years later, he’s proud to be called a survivor and serves as co-founder of the Trevor’s Trek Foundation, which works to “make communities safer from cancer and other childhood diseases related to the environment and chemical exposures.” Trevor’s passion stems from when he discovered that 4 other children in his small Idaho community were also diagnosed with brain cancer the same year he was. He came to believe that where you live can make you sick and that there appears to be a connection between environmental contaminants and childhood cancer.
What Can You Do to Help the Boxer-Markey Bill Become a Law?
The path from Senate bill to a full-blown law can be a long and rocky path, but there is still one major way you can help: make your voice heard.
Contact your state’s House and Senate leaders directly to tell them that you support the Alan Reinstein and Trevor Schaefer Toxic Chemical Protection Act. Share your own personal stories about asbestos or mesothelioma, reasons why you think this bill is so important, and anything else you feel would be essential in showing your support.
You can find contact information for your state’s representatives here.
You can find contact information for your state’s senators here.