Every Fourth of July, Americans come together to celebrate the birth of our nation. Looking back, there is so much our country has to be proud of, but looking ahead, there is always more work to be done. This year, every single person in America has an opportunity to make 2019 a true step forward in the fight to ban asbestos in America once and for all.
The Alan Reinstein Ban Asbestos Now Act of 2019 (ARBAN) has been introduced in both Houses of Congress, and it provides a real solution for one of the toughest challenges confronting America.
Most people think asbestos is already banned, but right now, it’s is still legal in the United States, and it’s still taking lives. Since 1991, when the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) ban of asbestos was overturned by corporate lobbyists, more than 1 million Americans have died from asbestos-related diseases.
More than 60 countries have banned the toxic fiber, but thanks to successful lobbying efforts by the chlor-alkali industry, America imported 750 metric tons of asbestos in 2018. Of course, this number does not include the asbestos found in contaminated consumer products, like crayons, children’s make-up, and baby powder, to name only a few.
In addition to the importation of raw asbestos, the toxic mineral can also be found all around us. Millions of tons of asbestos were used in the construction of homes, schools, military bases, and other buildings throughout the country. As these structures degrade, the risk of human exposure to asbestos skyrockets.
Once a person is diagnosed with mesothelioma, a terrible cancer caused solely by asbestos exposure, they have very few options. Treatment options can buy patients precious time with their families, but there is no cure for mesothelioma.
Many seek legal guidance in order to access the asbestos trust funds, which were set aside to help mesothelioma survivors and their families. These additional resources have proven instrumental to families reeling from an unexpected mesothelioma diagnosis, but they cannot turn back time.
Across the country, families and friends will gather to share food and laughter on Independence Day. But some families will be without their loved ones — those whose lives have been taken too early by an asbestos-related disease.
As we celebrate, it’s important to remember those who have lost so much to an entirely preventable disease.
Veterans Make Up 33% of All Mesothelioma Cases
Anyone who served in any branch of the U.S. military is at an increased risk of developing an asbestos-related disease. Until the risks were publicized, the strong, durable, and heat-resistant mineral was used extensively in Navy ships, military buildings, and products that saw extreme heat, like brake pads, gaskets, and fireproof doors.
During their service, the men and women of the military were literally surrounded by asbestos. Today they are paying the price. More than 33% of all mesothelioma cases affect veterans. Though anyone who served is at risk, the odds of exposure are especially high for those who interacted directly with products that contained asbestos.
Those who interacted daily with asbestos include:
- Boiler tenders
- Wheeled-vehicle and aviation mechanics
- Electronic technicians
- Jet engine inspectors
- Maintenance and construction workers
After fighting for the land of the free there is not a single good reason why a single veteran should have to return to an America that still imports asbestos.
Reclaiming America’s Position as a Public Health Authority
The asbestos prevention community has pushed for a ban through every possible channel, but politicians, influenced by industry, have maintained loopholes that keep asbestos legal.
The Alan Reinstein Ban Asbestos Now Act is a meaningful ban. Not only will it prevent more asbestos from coming to American shores, but it will also reckon with the millions of tons that are already here. It will not be easy, but it is the only way to put America on a path toward zero asbestos-related deaths.
Join the fight for the Alan Reinstein Ban Asbestos Now Act of 2019, and help America celebrate its independence from asbestos in 2019.