News Releases

Murray Addresses Canadian Asbestos Conference

Sep 12 2003

Senator Joins with Leaders in Parliament to Stop Canada from Exporting Asbestos

(Washington, D.C.) Today U.S. Senator Patty Murray addressed an asbestos conference held in Canada's Parliament building. Speaking by video, Murray commended the organizers for urging the Canadian government to stop exporting asbestos to the United States and other countries throughout the world. The Conference, titled "Canadian Asbestos: A Global Concern" was organized by Canadian Member of Parliament Joe Comartin.

Senator Murray's remarks follow:

Hi, I'm U.S. Senator Patty Murray speaking to you from Washington, D.C. Here in the U.S. Senate I've been working for the past three years to protect citizens from the dangers of asbestos. And as all of you know, this hazard is not limited to a single country or continent. It's an international problem that we must come together to address.

That's why I'm so thrilled to join all of you who have gathered in the Parliament building to spark an international discussion about the dangers of asbestos.

I especially want to thank the organizers for bringing together such a diverse group of leaders–from different fields and different countries–to address this public health threat.

I also want to say hello to my friend Dr. Barry Castleman, who literally wrote the book on asbestos, and who like many of you has worked hard to end this deadly chapter.

I've seen the toll that asbestos is taking in the United States. Each year, more than 2,000 Americans die from mesothelioma. Everyday auto mechanics and construction workers are exposed to asbestos on the job. As many as 35 million homes, schools, and businesses have insulation made with asbestos. And that's just in the United States. Worldwide an estimated 5-10 million people may ultimately die from asbestos exposure.

It is hard to believe that despite these dangers, asbestos is still put into consumer products on purpose. Together we must break the chain of asbestos exposure and death, and it starts with conferences like this one.

While more than 20 countries have banned asbestos, the United States has not. That's why I've been working in the Senate for the past three years to ban asbestos, to educate the public, and to support federal research on asbestos diseases.

I am happy to say that we have made some progress. In May, I re-introduced legislation to ban asbestos. In July, the Senate Judiciary Committee included portions of my bill in its own asbestos liability legislation. While the future of that bill is unclear, the need to ban asbestos remains.

And that's where all of you can play a critical role. Canada has always been a leader in protecting the public health and welfare. You can continue that leadership by stopping the production and distribution of asbestos. Stopping asbestos won't be easy as I've found in my own battles with the asbestos industry, but the lives of millions of people hang in the balance.

I hope we can join together to send a clear message that asbestos related products should be banned immediately. Working together, we can put people over profits and save another generation from the horrors of asbestos diseases. I'm looking forward to being your partner in this critical effort, and I want to wish all of you a productive conference. From Washington, D.C., this is Senator Patty Murray.