News Releases

Senators Call on EPA to Live Up to Its Word, Warn Homeowners on Asbestos-Tainted Insulation

Mar 28 2003

Murray, Boxer, Clinton repeat their call to conduct public education campaign Murray’s “Ban Asbestos in America Act” would force EPA to do the job

(WASHINGTON, D.C.) – Three United States Senators are renewing their call for EPA to conduct a public education campaign to warn homeowners about the potential hazards of asbestos-contaminated attic insulation that may be in as many as 35 million American homes, schools and businesses.

Sen. Murray (D-Wash.) has written legislation that would compel EPA to conduct a public education campaign about the dangers of Zonolite insulation if the agency continues to delay. Murray's "Ban Asbestos in America Act," which would prevent manufacturers from deliberately using asbestos in products, was first introduced in the 107th Congress and will be reintroduced in the 108th Congress.

In January, EPA officials responded to Murray's call for a public warning by promising that such a campaign was imminent. Murray first contacted the EPA after investigative reports indicated that the White House pressured EPA not to conduct a public education campaign. In a letter to Adm. Christine Todd Whitman on January 3rd, Murray asked why EPA "abruptly reversed course on… notifying the public." After receiving an unsatisfactory response, Murray, Sen. Hillary Clinton (D-N.Y.) and others sent a second letter to Whitman to find out "why EPA pulled back from issuing a public warning to consumers and workers about the risks of Zonolite insulation."

EPA officials responded in the media that EPA was planning a public education campaign, and on January 27th, the industry daily, Greenwire, reported that "agency officials said they would likely take action within the next two weeks to inform the public of any possible dangers." In the seven weeks that have passed since EPA vowed it would warn the American public, the agency has done nothing to warn homeowners.

Sen. Murray said, "for the sake of homeowners throughout the country, the EPA must inform the public about the hazards of asbestos-tainted insulation. The health and safety of the American people is too important to wait. The arrival of spring and the ritual of spring cleaning means that even more Americans may be working in their attics, unaware of the dangers of asbestos-contaminated insulation. The federal government has a moral obligation to share with the public what it already knows – that Zonolite insulation may contain asbestos and asbestos causes deadly diseases."

Senator Boxer said, "just as the Bush Administration withheld critical information on children's health, it is again suppressing information the public has a right to know. Millions of Americans have a health hazard in their attic, and they don't even know it. There is no excuse for the EPA to wait any longer to let people know about the dangers of asbestos."

Sen. Clinton said, "I applaud and support Senator Murray in her effort to ensure that homeowners across the country know about the hidden health hazards that may be posed by asbestos-tainted insulation. The federal government has a responsibility to protect public health, and Senator Murray is making certain that the EPA meets its responsibility in this regard."