Murray At Work

Still not banned.
Still not safe.

Murray Introduces the Ban Asbestos in America Act of 2002

Senator Murray speaks at
a press conference to introduce
the Ban Asbestos bill. 6/18/02

  • Facts About Asbestos
  • Bill to Ban Asbestos
  • Get Asbestos Updates
  • Press Releases Most Recent
  • Multi-Media  (photos & videos)
  • News Articles

  • On February 6, 2003, Senator Murray delivered a major floor speech on asbestos. Murray asked why our government suddenly abandoned plans to warn homeowners and workers about the dangers of Zonolite insulation. The insulation, which is in millions of homes, contains deadly asbestos.

    The speech was part of Murray's ongoing work to raise awareness about asbestos and to protect workers and consumers.

    Many Americans think they are safe from deadly asbestos. Yet each year, more than 2,000 Americans die from mesothelioma, a form of cancer resulting from exposure to asbestos.

    Chart- Why aren't we warning homeowners and protecting workers?
    On June 18, 2002, Senator Murray introduced the Ban Asbestos in America Act S.2641 ( bill summary, bill status, co-sponsors, detailed speech )

    Her legislation would ban the six regulated forms of asbestos, increase research for asbestos-related diseases, and study asbestos-containing products and contaminated areas.

    Senator Murray's bill is based on her research on asbestos. For example, on July 31, 2001, Senator Murray chaired a hearing on workplace exposure to asbestos at the Senate's HELP Committee (Health, Education, Labor & Pensions). For more information and photos from this event, click here.

    Facts About Asbestos

    Asbestos is everywhere in brake pads, roofing shingles, insulation, corrugated paper and fire protection. Despite the fact that most Americans believe that we have we have banned asbestos, this deadly substance is still being added to products on purpose.  1989 EPA tried to ban it, but the asbestos industry successfully sued and overturned the EPA's rules.

    Asbestos is deadly. The Department of Health and Human Services and the Environmental Protection Agency have determined that asbestos is a carcinogen. It produces lung cancer and mesothelioma (a cancer of the membrane that surrounds the lungs and internal organs.)

    We must do something about it. During the Reagan Administration, the EPA successfully finalized an asbestos phase-out and ban rule. But in 1991, the asbestos industry filed a lawsuit and overturned the rule. Asbestos, while tightly regulated, is still legal in the US.

    We must protect workers and consumers from contaminant asbestos. Miners may be exposed to asbestos fibers when mining for other minerals. We need to ensure the safety of these workers. Also, asbestos has been found as a contaminant in vermiculite in Zonolite home insulation and also in lawn and garden products.

    The health effects of asbestos take years to set in. It can take between 15-40 years for exposure to result in cancer. Exposure can also cause non-cancerous disease, such as asbestosis, a scarring of the lungs which impairs breathing.



    62 % of asbestos is used in roofing materials
    22% gaskets
    12% friction products (brakes, brake pads)
    4% other

    Data for 2002
    There is one mine in California that produces asbestos
    for the domestic American marketplace (but it accounts
    for only 1% of the asbestos used in America).
    99% of asbestos used in America comes from Canada.

    Fast Facts
  • According to EPA, 27 million Americans had significant asbestos exposure on the job between 1940 and 1980.

  • EPA has estimated as many as 3,000 products still contain asbestos.

  • Contaminated material from the Libby mine was shipped to more than 300 sites around the country for processing.

  • The EPA and the Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry have determined that 22 sites are still contaminated today, including one in Spokane, Washington.

  • Waste rock from asbestos-contaminated mines and plants was distributed across the country. The rock at one Minneapolis site contained between 2 and 10 percent tremolite asbestos and produced airborne asbestos concentrations 135 times higher than OSHA's current standard for workers.

  • As many as 35 million homes and businesses may have insulation made with harmful minerals from Libby.

  • In 2000, the U.S. consumed 13,000 metric tons of asbestos in the form of roofing products, gaskets, brakes and other products.

  • Asbestos has been banned in 20 countries, but not in the United States.

  • (back to top)

    Press Releases

    Most Recent

    Murray Highlights Asbestos Dangers at Abandoned Home in Spokane

    Ten Senators & Representatives Join Murray in Letters to EPA and OMB Floor Speech: Murray Asks Why Our Government Is Not Protecting Homeowners and Workers from Zonolite Insulation Did the White House Kill an Asbestos Safety Warning on Insulation?
  • Murray Demands Answers 1/3/03
  • NEW  EPA Administrator Responds to Murray 1/21/03
  • see related news articles

    Murray Bill Receives Key Endorsements From: (2/10/03)
  • Sierra Club  read endorsement (PDF file. Requires Adobe Acrobat)
  • Environmental Defense
  • The Mineral Policy Center
  • Natural Resources Defense Council

    Murray Testifies at Asbestos Hearing  (6/20/02)
    (Held by the Subcommittee on Superfund, Toxics, Risk, and Waste Management, which is part of the Senate's Environment & Public Works Committee).
  • read Murray's remarks
  • watch video

    Murray Introduces the "Ban Asbestos in America Act"  (6/18/02)
    Press Conference Materials:
  • Press release on the bill's introduction
  • Murray's press conference speech
  • Murray's floor speech (more detailed explanation of the bill, includes victims' stories)
  • Summary of the bill
  • Text of the Bill (coming soon)
  • Text of Lt. Col. James Zumwalt's remarks  (PDF file. Requires Adobe Acrobat)
  • Photo: Children Playing in Contaminated Gravel Referenced in Murray's remarks.
  • Map: "Asbestos-Tainted Vermiculite Ore Shipped to More than 300 Sites" (coming soon)
  • Video from Press Conference
  • Press release from Senator Dayton (D-Minn)
  • Press release from Senator Wellstone (D-Minn)

    7/31/01 Murray Held a Hearing on Asbestos Exposure: remarks  video

    Back to Top



    On February 18, 2003, Senator Murray held a press conference at an abandoned home in Spokane Washington to highlight the dangers of Zonolite Attic Insulation.
    (continued at right)
    Photo by Don Hamilton Studios


    February 18, 2003: Murray spoke at the former home of a Spokane couple, Ralph Busch and Donna Duncan, who discovered during remodeling that their home was contaminated with asbestos-tainted insulation. Murray was also joined by Marv Sather, a Spokane resident suffering from an asbestos-related disease, and Dr. Alan Whitehouse, a Spokane physician who treats asbestos victims.


    On June 18, 2002, Senator Murray held a press conference in the Dirksen Senate office building to introduce her Ban Asbestos in America Act. Above, reporters and audience members await the start of the press conference.


    Senator Murray spoke about the need for legislation to ban asbestos ( read speech, watch speech ).


    Murray pointed to a photograph of two young boys playing in a pile of gravel. The gravel, which was given away by Western Minerals, Inc. produced airborne asbestos concentrations 135 times higher than OSHA's current standard for workers.


    Murray outlined the main features of her bill. In the photo above, she's standing in front of a chart that summarizes the bill. Read detailed bill summary.


    The late Senator Paul Wellstone (D-Minn) spoke in favor of the bill.


    Senator Mark Dayton (D-Minn) spoke in favor of the bill.


    Lt Col. James Zumwalt, who lost his father, Adml. Elmo Zumwalt to mesothelioma, spoke. ( read his statement   - Requires Adobe Acrobat )


    Mrs. Susan Vento, the wife of the late Minnesota Congressman Bruce Vento, spoke about her husband's battle with mesothelioma.


    Survivor Brian Harvey (left), of Marysville, Washington, discussed his ongoing battle with mesothelioma.


    6/20/02  Senator Max Baucus (D-Mont) held a hearing on the clean up efforts in Libby, Montana.


    6/20/02  Senator Murray testified at the Libby Hearing.
      read Murray's remarks


    6/20/02  watch video

    Back to Top

    News Articles

    "Senator, officials join victim of asbestos in decrying delays"   Spokesman Review 2/19/03  NOTE: This site requires registration.

    "EPA will relent, warn public about asbestos in insulation"  Debate about the dangers of Zonolite still rages within the EPA, but pressure from Congress apparently has spurred a "major announcement" that could come within weeks.    St. Louis Post-Dispatch 2/18/03

    "Murray turns up the heat over decision to scrap asbestos alert"   Seattle P-I 2/11/03

    "Members of Congress want EPA explanation on vermiculite"   Minneapolis Star Tribune 2/11/03

    "Murray scolds EPA on pulling asbestos warnings"   Seattle P-I 2/7/03

    "Murray recounts pair's cautionary tale; Washington senator pushes for nationwide warning about Zonolite"   Spokesman Review 2/7/03  NOTE: This site requires registration.

    "EPA vermiculite study finds high levels of asbestos"   Minneapolis Star Tribune 2/7/03

    Editorial: "Stopping asbestos is job for Congress, administration"   Seattle P-I 1/15/03

    "Grace tried to stifle warning; Company asked EPA not to warn public about asbestos insulation in homes"   Spokesman Review 1/11/03  NOTE: This site requires registration.

    Commentary: "Feds Wrong to Stop Zonolite Warning"   Spokesman Review 1/3/03  NOTE: This site requires registration.

    "Murray Promises to Renew Push for Asbestos Warnings"   Seattle P-I 12/30/02

    "Derailed by White House"   St. Louis Post-Dispatch 12/29/02

    "White House budget office thwarts EPA warning on asbestos-laced insulation"   St. Louis Post-Dispatch 12/27/02

    "Congress Must Eliminate Asbestos"   Seattle P-I 7/01/02

    "Libby has High Rate for Cancer, Asbestos May be Causing Mesothelioma Tumors"   Spokane Spokesman Review 6/25/02

    "Feds Fear Asbestos Poisoning Spread Beyond Montana"   Seattle P-I 6/21/02

    "EPA Investigating Spread of Libby Asbestos"   Spokane Spokesman-Review 6/21/02

    "Senate Bill Would Ban Asbestos, but Industry Seeks Relief From Lawsuits"   Tacoma News Tribune 6/19/02

    "Bill Would Ban Asbestos"   Associated Press 6/19/02

    "Facing Tough Fight, Murray Offers Bill to Ban Asbestos"   Seattle P-I 6/19/02

    "Murray's Bill Takes Lead in New Round Against Asbestos"   Seattle P-I 6/18/02

    "Vento's Widow Backs Asbestos Ban"   St. Paul Pioneer Press 6/18/02

    "EPA to remove asbestos insulation from homes in Libby"   Seattle P-I 5/10/02

    "Libby held up as reason for asbestos ban"   Spokane Spokesman-Review 8/1/01

    "Senate told of asbestos dangers"  Seattle P-I 8/1/01

    "U.S. senators will examine health toll from asbestos"  Seattle P-I 7/28/01

    "Murray seeks asbestos hearings"  Seattle P-I 4/2/01

    "Asbestos: The Forgotten Killer"  Seattle P-I

    "A town left to die"  Seattle P-I

    Click here to see a list of all the P-I's stories

    Back to Top