News Releases

EPA Panel Backs Murray Asbestos Ban

May 19 2003

Final report calls for legislative ban on asbestos, requires national asbestos-disease registry. Asbestos ban should be “proposed by the Congress, promptly debated, and conclusively resolved”

(WASHINGTON, D.C.) – The EPA has released a report that calls for the U.S. to ban the production, manufacture, and distribution of asbestos, a deadly carcinogen that is still legally used in a range of consumer products.

The report also calls for a national mesothelioma registry, an outreach effort to educate consumers about asbestos-containing products, and tougher enforcement of current asbestos regulations.

During the last Congress, Sen. Patty Murray (D-Wash.) introduced "The Ban Asbestos in America Act," calling not only for a ban on asbestos, but a national registry for asbestos-related diseases to enable public health officials to track and identify sites where the public was being exposed to asbestos.

Murray's legislation would also require the EPA to conduct a public education campaign to warn homeowners that as many as 35 million homes, schools and businesses may be contaminated with asbestos-tainted attic insulation.

Murray will re-introduce her Ban Asbestos in America Act on Thursday, and has already lined up 6 Senate co-sponsors, including Senators Baucus, Boxer, Cantwell, Dayton, Jeffords and Leahy.

The EPA-commissioned report, entitled "Asbestos Strategies: Lessons Learned About Management and Use of Asbestos" was prepared by the Global Environment & Technology Foundation (GETF), a Virginia-based non-profit. The Foundation "engaged more than 100 technical and policy experts and other key stakeholders from government, academia and the private sector to take stock of the recent experiences with potential solutions and options regarding the use and management of asbestos."

The Asbestos Strategies report asserts that a "legislative ban on the production, manufacture, distribution and importation of products with commercially-added asbestos is the most direct means to address concerns about remaining health risk and reduce future costs for facility owners and managers." The report urges that a ban be "proposed by the Congress, promptly debated, and conclusively resolved."

"Many Americans are under the impression that asbestos has been banned for years," the report’'s executive summary states. But, "the U.S. Geological Survey estimates that more than 29 million pounds of asbestos were used in product manufacturing in the U.S. during 2001."

Senator Patty Murray, author of the Ban Asbestos in America Act, responded positively to the report.

"This report is the most powerful statement yet on the need to ban asbestos," said Murray. "It reinforces two things I have been saying for a long time. First, asbestos is still a serious problem in this country. Second, Congress needs to pass the Ban Asbestos in America Act now. This report makes it increasingly difficult for anyone to oppose this needed legislation."

Brent Kynoch, Managing Director of the Environmental Information Association (EIA), added, "This report is the first substantial news regarding asbestos from the EPA in over 13 years, and it's importance cannot be overstated. There was widespread agreement among the stakeholders in the Asbestos Strategies process that a ban on asbestos was long overdue, and this concurrence among the group came as a shock to EPA."

EIA is a national association with a mission to "collect, generate and disseminate information regarding environmental issues in buildings and facilities" and has served for 20 years as a primary national resource regarding asbestos in buildings.

Kynoch and EIA were among the stakeholders in the Asbestos Strategies dialogue.

To view the report, visit: